The law in relation to the taxation of SMSFs is a complex area of law and where in doubt, expert advice should be obtained.
For some time I have been watching some very interesting events unfold in the document provider space.
I have seen a rise of legal document providers who emphasise bulk legal document rollout as a lucrative business that mainly accounting firms can make huge margins on. In the SMSF space, I have seen figures thrown around of accountants being able to charge up to $2,500 per annum by simply rolling out documents year on year by the simple click of a button. A great example is a yearly trust deed update. Press a button. Roll it out. Make a good dollar.
In a recent demonstration with a document provider, the focus was on a spreadsheet, comprising of artificially inflated figures and revenue figures that you simply could not charge clients. The lack of focus on the documents and the quality of the documentation rang alarm bells. The focus was more on profit rather than doing the right thing by the clients you serve.
This of course on face value looks like a very lucrative untapped revenue base, luring people to make software and document decisions on revenue generating potential rather than looking out for the best interest of their clients.
With any document rollout regardless of the entity type, a careful review of what is currently in place is always needed. A careful review of what is being rolled out is also needed. The idea of bulk rollout without conducting the necessary review places you and your clients at risk. Unfortunately, blanket solutions seem to have gathered traction all driven by price and revenue.
Following on from this was an interesting article written by DBA Lawyers Director Daniel Butler, which appeared in the SMSF Adviser. Dan expressed concern around the deeds where binding death nominations will be undermined and rendered invalid by a revisionary nomination. Dan went on to also explain the possible consequence of such.
‘Dan has noticed the rise of many issues arising from documents that result in loss or damages to clients and has warned of illegal supply operations that don’t operate through law firms, supply their documents through the web, don’t check anything but make out that its signed off by a lawyer when it’s not.’ For one of Dan’s recent newsfeed articles on this topic, refer here.
John Morgan, a well-known Melbourne tax barrister, has also presented on this topic at The Tax Institute National Tax Convention in March 2019 and his extensive paper on this topic can be accessed here.
BGL’s position on this is simple. We believe that before documents are rolled out, a careful review is required by the appropriately qualified professional. This will minimise the level of risk that you and your clients are exposed to which is the number 1 priority. Our area of expertise is Corporate Compliance and Trust Management software. We focus on the software piece which we do better than anyone else in the market and leave the document piece to the lawyers and document providers.