Last month, Accountants Daily revealed that a working group had been formed by the ATO to solve the issue of tax practitioners being unable to access deceased taxpayers’ information through the new online services for agents.
The ATO has since confirmed that consultation is ongoing, with the expected solution due by January 2020.
“While practitioners can access information recorded under the TFN of a trust that is a deceased estate through online services for agents, practitioners are currently unable to access information recorded under the TFN of a deceased person through that system,” an ATO spokesperson told Accountants Daily.
“This is due to a legal impediment.”
While tax practitioners are still able to access that information in the old portals, the issue is set to come to a head once the tax and BAS agent portals are decommissioned sometime early next year.
“The ATO is stuck in the bind because the law requires them to have proper authority, but we got this unique situation where they haven’t actually stopped agents from accessing that information [in the portals], so we’ve got this scenario where you got two systems operating side by side and one that gives you access while the other one doesn’t,” said the Institute of Public Accountants’ general manager of technical policy, Tony Greco, previously.
The Tax Office will now consult with tax practitioners and stakeholders to explore potential solutions, including use of the Commissioner’s Remedial Power.
The Commissioner’s Remedial Power allows the commissioner to modify the operation of tax law in circumstances where entities will benefit, or at least be no worse off, as a result of the modification.
“The ATO is currently working with a range of stakeholders to consider a full range of options, including making a submission to the next panel in relation to the Commissioner’s Remedial Power seeking to modify the law in appropriate circumstances,” said the ATO spokesperson.
“The ATO is also undertaking consultation on proposed options with members of the Tax Practitioners Stewardship Group on 17 October and looks forward to working with the industry to progress a practical solution.”