SMSFs need a TFN and ABN. SMSF’s corporate trustees need an ACN. And all members need a TFN.

SMSFs need an ABN and TFN

That was quick and confusing, so let’s go through this once more.

Your SMSF needs a TFN

Tax File Numbers (TFN) are issued by the Australian Tax Office (ATO) and identify a tax payer.

Your SMSF has to prepare an annual return and hence needs a tax file number. This number is like your SMSF’s id. Without it the ATO can’t process the information in their system.

Your SMSF needs an ABN

Australian Business Numbers (ABN) are issued by the Australian Business Register (ABR) and identify a business.

Your SMSF needs an ABN…….Not actually true. There is no legal obligation for an SMSF to get an ABN. Neither the SIS Act nor SIS Regulations stipulate an ABN. And so the ATO can’t force you. Your SMSF can be a complying super fund without an ABN. 

But life is a lot easier when your SMSF does have an ABN. The business community expects your SMSF to have an ABN so many forms will ask for it. And eSAT doesn’t work for SMSFs without an ABN.

eSAT is the electronic superannuation audit tool auditors can use for their annual compliance audit or to lodge an auditor contravention report.

Your Corporate Trustee needs an ACN

Australian Company Numbers (ACN) are issued by the Australia Securities & Investments Commission (ASIC) and identify a company.

A corporate trustee is a company so they need an ACN by definition. Every company – be it a special purpose company or not – automatically gets an ACN upon registration. You are not an Australian registered company if you don’t have an ACN.

Assuming your corporate trustee doesn’t run a business or derive any income directly, they neither need an ABN nor a TFN.

All Members Need a TFN

Every member has a beneficial interest in the SMSF’s assets and income. And so the ATO wants to know who these members are. And they do that through a TFN. So every member needs a TFN.

If you get stuck, please email or call us. There might be a simple answer to your query.



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Last Updated on 14 March 2020