All new SMSF trustees must complete and sign the SMSF trustee declaration to demonstrate that they understand their trustee responsibilities and duties under the superannuation laws. If you have previously signed a SMSF trustee declaration (this will include any individuals that became SMSF trustees since July 2007, even if the SMSF was established before July 2007), it is prudent that you check out the latest version of the declaration.
Even if you have been operating a SMSF for several years (since before 2007) and you have not been required to sign an SMSF trustee declaration, it is prudent to take a few moments to read the latest SMSF trustee declaration (links to the document and explanatory information are provided at the end of this article).
In late 2012, the Australian Tax Office undertook a review of the SMSF trustee declaration and the associated fact sheet (Self-managed super funds – key messages for trustees), and made significant changes to both documents.
The 3 most recent significant changes to the SMSF trustee declaration are statements relating to:
- Investment strategy: You must regularly review your SMSF’s investment strategy having regard to all of the circumstances of the super fund including, risk, return, diversification and liquidity.
- Insurance: In reviewing the investment strategy of your SMSF, you must also consider whether the trustees of the SMSF should hold insurance cover over one or more members of the SMSF.
- No access to government financial assistance program: When signing the trustee declaration, an additional statement has been added to the DECLARATION section which states that you understand that: ‘I do not have access to the government’s financial assistance program that is available to trustees of Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) regulated funds in the case of financial loss due to fraudulent conduct or theft.”
Note: The ATO advises that you read the trustee declaration in conjunction with the ATO fact sheet ‘Self-managed super funds – key messages for trustees’ (NAT 71128).
Important: When you sign the declaration, you do not send the declaration to the ATO. The trustee declaration is kept with your SMSF records for 10 years, or for as long as you remain an SMSF trustee (whichever is longer).
SuperGuide provides further explanation on the SMSF trustee declaration, and how to complete the declaration in the SuperGuide article SMSF trustee declaration: A quick guide.
You can download the trustee declaration and the key messages document from the ATO website: