Illegal early release of super (IER) is one of the risk areas that the ATO has identified as being of most concern and in need of action.
Each year, the ATO analyses its data to identify the areas of high risk that will form part of its compliance program. Aside from illegal early release, another key risk area is non-lodgement. In the last year, the ATO has targeted individuals and promoters who register self-managed super funds with the intention of using the fund to illegally access super benefits.
In the 2019 financial year, the ATO cancelled the registration of 609 newly registered SMSFs who intended to use the funds for IER. They also withheld the details of 352 funds from the Super Fund Lookup, meaning they couldn’t receive payments and rollovers.
Some of the most common reasons for IER are:
- Financial stress.
- A desire to spend funds on a current-day benefit.
- Individuals having limited knowledge of setting up an SMSF and are therefore targeted by scrupulous promoters.
The ATO has warned of severe consequences for you and your fund if super is accessed before you are legally entitled to it. These include disqualification of trustees, administrative penalties, the fund deemed as non-complying, or even prosecution.
Fund trustees or members who have knowingly been involved in a scheme or been approached by anyone claiming that they can withdraw their super early should contact the ATO immediately to advise of the situation and avoid further penalties.