Does an SMSF need an ABN? The short answer is Yes. And a TFN. A corporate trustee as a special purpose company only needs an ACN . And an individual trustee and member needs a TFN. That’s the whole story in a snapshot.
Does my SMSF need an ABN
But that was quite fast. Let’s go through this again a bit slower and then once more.
An ABN (Australian Business Number) is an id code for a business and issued by the Australian Business Register – ABR.
An ACN (Australian Company Number) is an id code for a company and issued by the Australia Securities & Investments Commission – ASIC.
And a TFN (Tax File Number) is an id code for a tax payer and issued by the Australian Tax Office – ATO.
Does my SMSF need an ABN?
The answer is yes and no. The ATO wants your SMSF to get an ABN, whether they run a business or not. But there is no legal obligation for your SMSF to get an ABN.
Does my SMSF need a TFN?
Yes, since the SMSF needs to lodge a tax return and possibly pay tax. And this obviously wouldn’t work without a TFN. So the SMSF needs a TFN. So you could summarise this so far as:
SMSF = TFN + ABN
A SMSF is a trust and not a company, so they don’t need or get an ACN. Only companies get an ACN.
Does the fund’s trustee need an ABN?
The answer is No if the trustee doesn’t do anything else apart from being a trustee.
A corporate trustee is a company so they need an ACN by definition. Every company automatically gets an ACN upon registration. You are not an Australian registered company if you don’t have an ACN.
If a corporate trustee does nothing else but being a trustee (special purpose company), they don’t run a business. So they don’t need an ABN.
And a corporate trustee (special purpose company) doesn’t need to lodge a tax return or pay tax – the SMSF does – so the corporate trustee doesn’t need a TFN either.
Special purpose company means your corporate trustee isn’t doing anything else but being a corporate trustee to your SMSF. In that case all your corporate trustee needs is an ACN (Australian Company Number) and a company constitution that can just be a usual set of standards (‘Replaceable Rules’).
However, if your corporate trustee is not a special purpose company, meaning the company is doing something else apart from being a trustee to your SMSF, then your corporate trustee might need a TFN and ABN. So a company can’t hide behind its role as a corporate trustee and run a business on the side.
An individual trustee obviously doesn’t get an ACN.
The individual trustee doesn’t require an ABN as long as they don’t also run a business.
But they need a TFN as a member. The ATO needs to know who is the ultimate beneficiary of the income earned in an SMSF and they do that through a TFN.
Disclaimer: Tax Talks does not provide financial or tax advice. All information on Tax Talks is of a general nature only and might no longer be up to date or correct. You should seek professional accredited tax and financial advice when considering whether the information is suitable to your or your client’s circumstances.
Last Updated on 28 March 2019