Laws passed in June last year will soon see new and current directors required to apply for a director identification number (director ID) which they will keep permanently, even if they cease to be a director.
The government expects the director ID regime will help prevent illegal phoenixing by ensuring directors can be traced across companies, while also preventing the use of fictitious identities, such as Elvis Presley or Bob Marley.
The Treasury expects 10 per cent of Australia’s 25.7 million population to apply for a director ID, with the new program to be administered by the Commonwealth Registrar under a separate statutory function of the ATO.
New details released by the Treasury have now revealed that directors will be required to provide their names and former names, addresses and former addresses, contact details, and their date and place of birth.
Applicants will need to prove their identity using key Australian identity documents, with accepted documents to include a driver’s licence or learner’s permit, passport, birth certificate, Australian visa and Medicare card.
The Registrar may also request for the director’s tax file number (TFN), but it cannot compel them to disclose it. However, the Registrar may ask the ATO to provide the TFN of an individual who has applied for a director ID to verify the identity of the individual.
Director details provided to the Registrar may also be authenticated by linking the individual’s information to ATO client records.
The Treasury is expected to release more details over the coming weeks on transitional arrangements for directors to apply for a director ID.
Until the legislative instrument has been made, there will be no requirements for directors to apply for a director ID.
Existing directors will be given an unspecified time frame to apply for a director ID once the regime comes into effect.
Those appointed as a director within the first 12 months of the new regime’s operation will also be granted an additional 28 days to apply for a director ID.
After the transitional period ends, individuals will be required to apply for a director ID prior to being appointed as a director.
There will be civil and criminal penalties for directors who fail to apply for a director ID within the applicable time frame, and for conduct that undermines the new requirements, including providing false identity information to the Registrar or intentionally applying for multiple director IDs.
Jotham Lian is the editor of Accountants Daily, the leading source of breaking news, analysis and insight for Australian accounting professionals.
Before joining the team in 2017, Jotham wrote for a range of national mastheads including the Sydney Morning Herald, and Channel NewsAsia.