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Role of the trustee on accountant trust accounts

A trust account is a business bank account used by a public accountant to hold funds on behalf of clients.

Under the Trust Accounts Act 1973 ( the Act) and Trust Accounts Regulation 1999 (the Regulation), a public accountant who manages client funds is a trustee and must therefore comply with trust account legislation.

A trustee is required to:

  • meet the prescribed requirements of the Act and the Regulation
  • report annually to the entity that oversees trust accounts in Queensland (i.e. the Department of Justice and Attorney-General)
  • provide other information requested by the department.

Setting up a trust account

Before setting up a trust account with your bank, you need to advise us that you intend to create a new trust account. Also tell us the name and branch of the financial institution where the account will be set up.

If your financial institution needs ourapproval to set up a trust account, we will write to your bank granting permission.

Within 14 days of setting up a trust account, you must lodge a Form 1 – New trust account. This lets us know that you have become a trustee under the Act.

Follow the Form 1A – New trust account checklist.

Appoint auditor within 30 days

You then need to appoint an auditor to the account and advise us of the appointment within 30 days.

Before appointing the auditor, ensure they meet the criteria under the Act—see sections 14 and 15.

Provide the full name and business address of the auditor, and have them endorse their appointment.

Changes to a trust account

If changes are made to your trust account—such as new name, address, or trustee—we must be advised within 30 days.

Notify us by submitting a Form 2 – Maintenance of particulars.

If a trustee resigns, we must be notified using the Form 3 – Cease to be a trustee.

Annual reporting on a trust account

The financial period for a trust account is 1 April to 31 March.

Once a trust account has been set up, there compulsory reporting requirements to be meet each year.

At the end of the financial period you must provide the following 3 pieces of information (at a minimum):

  1. Statement of highest amount held in trust
  2. Financial security (unless exempted)
  3. Independent auditor’s report

An exemption on the financial security requirement applies if your trust account meets the following conditions:

  • The nature of the business relates solely to income tax returns.
  • The tax refunds are paid out at the end of each working day to affect a cashbook balance of zero.

1. Statement of highest amount held in trust

A written statement, witnessed by a Justice of the Peace or Commissioner for Declarations, stating the largest amount of money held in your trust account during the previous financial period.

The statement must be lodged with us by 14 April each year. It can be submitted on business letterhead or using one of our maximum cashbook declaration forms.

There is a different form based on whether the security exemption:

2. Financial security

You must lodge a financial security  by 14 April each year based on the amount reported in your maximum cashbook declaration.

The security is $10,000, or a third of the amount declared in your statement—whichever is less.

However, if you are exempt from lodging a financial security, ensure you use the form 4A to state the highest amount held instead.

For more information, refer to Queensland Government Gazette No 21, 24 May 2002.

3. Independent auditor’s report

As a trustee, it is your responsibility to arrange and submit an independent auditor’s report for the financial period ending 31 March each year.

The audit report must address a 25-point list of prescribed information—use Form 5 – Prescribed Information for Audit Report and refer to section 23(1) of the Regulation.

The audit report must be on the auditor’s business letterhead and sent to us by post or email, although it is the trustee’s responsibility to ensure the audit report is completed and lodged with us each year.

Closing a trust account

When a trust account is closed, the trustee must:

  • immediately submit a Form 6 – Closure of trust account, or advise us on business letterhead
  • arrange an independent audit of the trust account from the start of the current financial year until the day it was closed, regardless of the number of transactions during the period
  • lodge the final audit report within 2 months of closing the trust account.

Once you have completed these requirements and all outstanding issues have been resolved, any trust account security we hold will be returned to the issuing financial institution.

Contact us

The supervising entity to the Trust Accounts Act 1973 is:

Internal Audit Unit
Department of Justice and Attorney-General
GPO Box 149
BRISBANE  QLD  4001

Phone: (07) 3109 9113 or (07) 3006 2541

Email: trustaccounts@justice.qld.gov.au