Following some recent commentary, there have been concerns across the profession relating to whether the ATO will accept electronic copies of self-managed superannuation fund (SMSF) documents such as scanned copies of original documents.
Will the retention of only scanned copies of official SMSF documents such as trust deeds be considered sufficient from a record-keeping perspective? Increasingly, accounting firms and bookkeepers are retaining only scanned copies of documents.
The ATO have confirmed that electronic copies of documents will be accepted. There may be limited circumstances where a request for original documentation would be made, including where there is suspected tax crime or fraud.
It should be noted that this advice pertains to how the ATO administers SMSF compliance and regulatory work and does not negate the legal requirement for original documents to be retained. It is prudent to ensure that original documents are not destroyed. Once electronic copies are taken, a record should be maintained of where the originals are housed.
While this approach by the ATO is sensible and welcome, the law relating to electronic superannuation documentation should be amended so that the ATO’s administrative approach is enshrined in legislation.
Robyn Jacobson, CTA
The Tax Institute