SMSF Basics – Trustees of an SMSF must sign a Trustee Declaration

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Understanding Trustee Declaration

A new Trustee of a new or existing SMSF must sign the ATO Trustee Declaration form within 21 days of becoming an SMSF Trustee where it states that you: ‘Understand my duties and responsibilities as a Trustee or Director of the Corporate Trustee of the Self-Managed Superannuation Fund named on this declaration . . .’.

The purpose is to confirm that you understand your responsibilities as Fund Trustee. As Trustee, you’re still subject to these responsibilities even when you don’t sign the document. If you don’t sign the Trustee Declaration, however, you may be subject to penalties.

Before you sign the Trustee Declaration, you must read the ATO Fact Sheet ‘Self-Managed Super Funds — key messages for trustees’ (NAT 71128). The fact sheet states that you’re responsible for managing your fund, and that you must understand your trustee duties and responsibilities, which include:

  • Ensuring your SMSF is maintained for the purpose of providing retirement benefits, which is more commonly known as meeting the sole purpose test.
  • Drafting the fund’s investment strategy and making investment decisions.
  • Accepting contributions and paying benefits.
  • Appointing an approved auditor for each income year.
  • Lodging annual returns with the ATO and keeping fund records.

You can download a copy of both forms from the ATO website (publication number: NAT 71089). www.ato.gov.au

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