Record Keeping Requirements for SMSFs

Posted 11 Mar '21

As a Self-Managed Superannuation Fund (SMSF) trustee, record keeping is one of your key responsibilities. Super law determines that when it comes to record keeping requirements, the buck stops with you. Due to the complexity and stringent requirements of super law, the days of delivering the shoe box filled with paperwork to your accountant’s office are long gone. As a trustee you are obliged to keep complete and accurate records each financial year and retain these records for the minimum time stipulated by the ATO.

Aside from legal requirements, it is also good practice to keep accurate records as you may need to provide this information at short notice, to either your approved self-managed super fund (SMSF) auditor, or to the ATO, should they request them. Good record keeping also streamlines the process for your SMSF professional to complete your fund’s annual return, and subsequently may reduce your annual compliance costs.

It is important that records are kept in writing and that they are written in English. Electronic records may also be kept, however, they must be capable of being verified, easily understood and easily accessed by the ATO. It is important to note that financial penalties may be imposed for breaches of the record keeping requirements.

You need to keep the following records for a minimum of five years:

  • Accurate records that explain the transactions and financial position of your SMSF. All transactions that occur within an SMSF must be verifiable through externally sourced documents such as dividend statements, expense invoices and asset acquisition and disposal documents.
  • Documentation showing decisions made about member benefit payments (pension, lump sum, or a combination of both) and the account that the payment was paid from.
  • An annual operating statement and an annual statement of your SMSF’s financial position.
  • Copies of transfer balance account reports that have been lodged. 

You need to keep the following records for a minimum of 10 years:

  • Copies of all lodged SMSF annual returns.
  • Minutes of trustee meetings and decisions (detailing that matters affecting your fund were discussed, such as a review of the fund's investment strategy, or the commencement or commutation of an income stream).
  • Records of changes of trustees.
  • Trustee declarations recognising the obligations and responsibilities for any trustee, or director of a corporate trustee, appointed after 30 June 2007.
  • Members’ written consent to be appointed as trustees’.
  • Copies of all reports given to members.
  • Documented decisions about storage of collectables and personal use assets.

As each SMSF is unique, if you need assistance with, or advice regarding your record keeping requirements, please contact your WDF professional team member. Call 6921 5444 or email 

Sarah Cochrane


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