In a huge revision by the ATO, it turns out that most SMSFs are actually being established with corporate trustees, rather than individual trustees as was thought. Also more than half of all SMSFs have a corporate trustee.
According to recently released ATO statistics, 80.84% of SMSF registered in 2016/17 were with a corporate trustee. This is far higher than the ATO had previously been reporting. The ATO’s 2014/15 SMSF statistical overview had only 7.24% of SMSFs registered in 2015/16 as having a corporate trustee (2,433 funds). The revised figures now have this as 80.82% with corporate trustees (27,274 funds). The total number of SMSFs registered has not changed markedly.
Over the past couple of years the proportion using corporate trustees has varied between almost 65% and just over 80%, according to the revised figures.
The revisions have also impacted the reported total proportion of SMSFs with corporate or individual trustees. According to the ATO 56.78% of all SMSF had a corporate trustees as at 30 June 2017. The originally reported figure for 2015/16 was 23.23%, but this has been revised to 55.24%.
The ATO says the revision is due to a change in the data used, and have issued revised figures for previous years.
“In this year’s publication for 2017, we have used a more reliable data set to determine the SMSF trustee structure. An issue was identified with previously used data and has been rectified in this report, resulting in significant changes to previous trustee structure data.”
Corporate trustees are widely seen as the superior structure, despite the additional cost. The Super System Review (Cooper Review) panel expressed surprise at the apparent trend favouring individual trustees. It now appears that corporate trustees have in fact been the preferred structure, but this was not reflected in the statistics.