Late last year, the Commissioner of Taxation proposed to use his remedial power to modify the Taxation Administration Act to allow a taxation officer to disclose protected information to the registered tax agent or BAS agent, or legal practitioner of an executor or administrator of an estate of a deceased individual.
The legislative instrument for enacting the power has now been tabled in both the House of Representatives and the Senate.
However, the ATO anticipates the approval process will only be completed by mid-May, a point of frustration previously raised by the industry.
This will mean tax agents would not have had access to deceased clients’ information on Online services for agents since 29 November 2019, when the old tax agent portals officially closed.
“We acknowledge that this process has been lengthy and understand the frustration of tax professionals dealing with difficult and sensitive circumstances with bereaved relations and friends of deceased clients,” said the ATO in an online update.
“We will continue to explore improvements to the experience for LPRs and their tax and legal representatives seeking to finalise the tax affairs of a deceased estate.”
In the interim, the ATO has advised that it has developed a deceased estate data package that extracts relevant tax and income information about a deceased client from the ATO’s systems.
This information will be provided to an executor or administrator who has received a grant or probate or letters of administration directly.
Registered tax agents who have been appointed by the executor or administrator to represent the deceased client’s estate can request the information on Online services for agents, but it can only be sent directly to the executor or administrator due to legal restrictions.
The Inspector-General of Taxation (IGTO) is also currently reviewing the ATO systems and processes for dealing with deceased estates.
Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand (CA ANZ) and CPA Australia have specifically called for the IGTO to review the lengthy process taken to resolve the denial of access to deceased taxpayers records on Online services for agents.
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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.