A Guide to Transfer Balance Account Reports for accountants & auditors

Auditors and accountants have to adapt to the new legislation on SMSF reporting. There have been significant changes in SMSF processing, and it’s crucial to keep up with them. In July 2018, a new framework for SMSFs was introduced which requires certain events to be reported to the Australian Taxation Office (ATO). Event-based reporting is a new obligation SMSFs need to fulfill. SMSF annual returns are still mandatory.

However, this new reporting style aims to capture information about other events as they occur. In certain cases, SMSFs have to file transfer balance account reports (or TBARs). There is now an increased need for real-time accounting. TBARs may need to be filed at any time during the financial year. Additionally, there’s a strict time limit on TBAR reporting.

Hence, the SMSF industry is going to have to make some fundamental changes. Accounting and auditing will have to become faster and more cost-efficient. In many cases, you’ll lodge within 28 days of the end of the quarter. Some TBARs need lodging sooner, whereas you only need to lodge others annually.

What about auditing? TBARs give auditors a new set of challenges. They’re still invaluable to the process, but the use of TBARs means they have to adapt to a new environment. Let’s overview the top facts about TBARs, as well as the ways that auditors will have to update their practices.

What Is a T BAR?

The ATO introduced TBARs to help them with a specific issue. Previously, the ATO had to wait for extended periods to receive data about how much people have allocated across the various phases in their superannuation funds. In some cases, they have to wait for almost 11 months to receive data about SMSFs. T BAR allows the ATO to track a member’s significant events and key transactions during the retirement phase. The ATO has applied a transfer balance cap of $1.6 million to this retirement phase.

TBARs allows you to track a transfer balance account to work out if there’s space for further activity. It also highlights if you’ve exceeded the cap through recent activity. TBARs allow the government to track large transfers. SMSF members now have their total superannuation balance monitored too. This is the sum of all their accumulation and retirement phase superannuation interests across all their accounts and funds. If it goes over $1 million, the SMSF has to lodge more frequently.

Which Events Require TBARs?

It’s crucial for accountants to keep track of each SMSF member’s transfers and superannuation balance. Accountants must report key events that alter an SMSF member’s transfer balance. Check the ATO’s guide here. A short summary follows:

  • The Type and Value of Pre-Existing Income Streams Details of pre-existing income streams being received on 30 June 2017 that will continue to be paid or will remain in the retirement phase on or after 1 July 2017. It’s not necessary to file a TBAR when the interest from an income stream has been exhausted.
  • The Type and Value of Death Benefit Income Streams and New Retirement Phase Income Streams Reversionary death benefit income streams should be filed starting from the date of death. Note that it’s not necessary to file a report upon the death of an SMSF member
  • New or Re-Financed Limited Recourse Borrowing Arrangement (LRBA) Payments ‘New’ refers to borrowing arrangements entered into on or after 1 July 2017 and the payment results in an increase in the value of the member’s interest that supports their retirement phase income stream.
  • Personal Injury Contributions
  • Commutations of Retirement Phase Income Streams that occur on or after 1 July 2017 or Compliance with a Commutation Authority

There are some exclusions to consider in the reporting too. For example, accountants don’t have to worry about filing a member’s APRA fund interests as the funds will report these. Information filed directly via a Transfer balance event notification form (NAT 74919) also doesn’t need to be included in the T BAR.

How Does TBAR’s Introduction Change the Compliance Process?

It was necessary to file all information about pre-existing streams by 1 July 2018. After this date, TBARs cover new events. If every SMSF member has a total superannuation balance lower than $1 million, the TBARs aren’t urgent. They can simply be filed once a year along with the Annual Return. But this changes if any member has a total superannuation balance of over $1 million. In this case, the SMSF has a new obligation. When an event occurs, they have to file a TBAR within 28 days after the end of the quarter. Events apply to all members, including members whose total superannuation balance is under $1 million. Let’s overview the main points.

  • The ATO will notify you in the event that you exceed the $1.6 million cap. It will ask you to rectify the event.
  • There is no legal limitation on the superannuation balance of SMSF members. But if anyone’s total superannuation balance goes over $1 million, a TBAR must be filed.
  • The ATO now has more insight into all SMSF income streams.
  • When you file depends on the fund’s composition and each member’s total super balance. As mentioned previously, you’ll often file within four weeks of an event. However, there are plenty of exceptions. For example, in the case of commutations, the SMSF may have only ten days after the end of the month to file a TBAR.

This is a new piece of legislation, so we may see changes made over time, particularly in regard to caps. For example, the $1 million superannuation criterion might be re-evaluated over time. Furthermore, the Treasury has a new proposal to change the audit cycle from one year to three years. If the measure passes, it will commence on 1 July 2019. However, the idea is still under much debate. Interestingly, this proposal sits at odds with the value and oversight that event-based reporting provides. With longer audit cycles, the ATO’s level of oversight would decrease. This might undo some of the positives that come with TBARs.

Your Responsibilities

When the July 2018 deadline came around, many SMSFs failed to comply with the new legislation. In most cases, the failure came from a muddled understanding of the rules. Some SMSF accountants didn’t understand the proper treatment of income streams under the new legislation. Some of the clients failed to comply with the transfer balance cap. This often happened because they failed to inform their accountant about their other super fund balances. People simply didn’t know which data was relevant. Since July, various SMSFs struggled with sending up-to-date TBARs. Many accountants had to get used to the new software in order to generate these reports and have had to change their practices to ensure data is up-to-date and accessible. As an auditor, ensuring you have a solid understanding of TBAR reporting is one of your responsibilities. This means you have to have clear oversight over all of your client’s income streams, other key events and any breaches of the transfer balance cap.

What Does This Change?

With these changes, the accounting and auditing process has to become more proactive and access to up-to-date data is imperative. SMSF professionals have more data to go over and processing frequency will need to increase. However, your main task lies in understanding the compliance and data requirements that will allow you to support the fund under this new framework. Many auditors hesitate to rely on data feeds. But if you find feeds that have a reliable source and structure, you won’t compromise the quality of your work. Data feeds can be secure and almost entirely error-free. At the same time, auditors will need to have a more active relationship with their clients. Being able to source reliable data and communicate regularly with clients can make it easier to keep on top of your requirements, identify areas of focus, and help to better support the SMSF with the new compliance regime.

The Final Word

TBARs whilst complex, have made a positive contribution to the industry in providing more visibility and transparency of key information. Clients and their SMSF professionals are still in an adjustment period. But the reporting process should soon become routine. It’s impossible to keep up with these changes without altering your process. Becoming well-versed in data feeds and understanding what online access to data and reporting you can receive is one of the ways that can assist Automation enables you to more easily and cost-effectively identify areas for focus. But there are many other ways to improve your processes. At Cloudoffis, we offer a variety of industry-specific innovations. To learn more, get in touch with us any time.

A Game Changer has been released with new features – January 2019

Release 3.2 Now Available

We’re excited to share release 3.2 with you as it is a GAME CHANGER! These new features and additions are a culmination of 12 months of feedback addressing some of the most popular suggestions and improvements. This release includes significant enhancements to the below and is direct result of client feedback.

  • Addition of ASIC Searches
  • Addition of Title Searches
  • New Date Picker and options
  • New Subscription Module
  • BGL Integration Enhanced

NEW PDF Viewer

We have redeveloped our PDF Viewer to include NEW! features and additional functionalities as suggested by our clients. You can view, tag, highlight, comment & bookmark documents faster, with enhanced reliability, such as;
  • Additional options for navigating to correct results. Thumbnail View and view all pages inclusive of searched text.
  • Additional Zoom options with one click fit to page options (Zoom and display settings no longer affect the placement or the ability to see the tag or comment)
  • Multiple additions to panes with option to expand or collapse
  • NEW! the ability to highlight text with the option to alter colours
  • Improved Comment function with the newly added ability to edit, delete, customise and expand/collapse
  • NEW! Pre existing PDF bookmarks that existed prior to Cloudoffis upload will now display with hyperlinks to each.
  • NEW! Search options. Whole word only, Case sensitive and Wilcard search.
There is a summary PDF available and a comprehensive support document and video are currently being produced. We welcome your request to preview this

Addition of ASIC Searches

Your corporate trustee ASIC searches can now be requested through our InfoTrack integration, and will be automatically stored for quick access. Instantly order and attach ASIC Extracts from within Cloudoffis directly to your audit. This is available from the Member Entitlements page within the process and s.17A within the SIS Checklist.
Once selected from either area you will receive a pop up with clear instructions and pricing displayed, the moment the order is placed the document appears as an attachment. All ordered documents and pricing is tracked within your subscription page/Documents Billing.

Select Order ASIC Extract

Pop Up Screen to Place Order


Subscription/Documents Billing view. Orders will be settled monthly or weekly dependent on quantity.


Addition of Title Searches

Instantly order a Title Search with the click of a button directly within Cloudoffis (thanks to our integration with InfoTrack); the document then automatically attaches from within Cloudoffis directly to your audit. This is available from the Real Property page within the process.

Pop Up Screen to Place Order – Prices vary dependent on state (NSW, VIC or QLD) and will be clearly quoted once state is selected prior to ordering.

Subscription/Documents Billing view. Orders will be settled weekly.

NEW Date Picker and options

We have introduced a new Date Picker, entering dates in Cloudoffis has never been faster! Once selected you will have the option to scroll through years quickly, select month and then day. 

Scroll to Year and select Month

Select Day – Will default to current date


Enter Date Manually

This is a huge improvement for our clients creating funds from non cloud based software’s.
Dates can now be manually entered using the format DD/MM/YYYY

NEW Subscription Module

Adding more funds is now simple, transparent & streamlined with a new slider to easily calculate your top-ups. This will allow clients to top up their files and renew to a new term instantly online. 

Subscription View

Cart View

Each of these new features and enhancements will have a dedicated support page covering the steps comprehensively with a helpful video in the coming days.

BGL Integration Enhanced

New APIs for our integration with BGL have been released so you no longer need to manually upload the following reports:
  • Operating Statement
  • Financial Statement
  • Investment Summary

Efficiency win!


Schedule Your Personalised Preview of Cloudoffis

We provide an automated audit technology that drastically reduces inefficiencies, saves you hours and boosts your bottom line. We hold the promise of new experiences and challenge you to try them. Schedule a live demo today! Use the form below.

Year of the audit “2019” – What you think on future of SMSF auditing?

Hey there,

What do you believe is the future of SMSF auditing?

At Cloudoffis, we hold out the promise of new experiences and challenge you to try them.
We believe SMSF workflows and current practices can be free from inaccurate and time-consuming paperwork.
We believe in a user-friendly experience that enhances collaboration and success.
We believe in business intelligence that enables flexibility without compromising power.
We believe in an integrated platform, but we don’t believe in silo-ed solutions that require referencing history.
At Cloudoffis, we provide automated cloud technology

that drastically reduces inefficiencies and empowers the SMSF auditing industry.

So I challenge you to leave the known for what could be, innovate with an adventurous spirit, and be a trailblazer with us.