Institute of Certified Bookkeepers

It is important to ensure that a client's/business's address and contact details with the ATO are correct. This prevents correspondence from the ATO sitting on the wrong desk and not getting action. It also ensures that the right people have authority to discuss matters with the ATO.

Who Can Act for a Client?

The ATO can only work with the people who are ‘authorised’ to act on behalf of a taxpayer/entity.

“Only primary contacts (including public officers), authorised contacts, registered tax agents, registered BAS agents, temporarily appointed tax professionals and specialist tax advisers can contact us (the ATO) on behalf of an entity”

Who do the ATO Write to?

Correspondence to taxpayers with a registered agent will be prioritised for direction to:

  • their myGov Inbox where applicable.
  • the preferred postal address for service of notice.
  • the correspondence channel as set by preference arrangements in our systems.

Emails and SMS text messages will be sent to the email address or mobile phone number in our records.

Managing Client Mail

The ATO Interaction Management (IM) system allows you to tell the ATO where you want your clients' activity statements and related mail sent – either to you on behalf of your clients, or directly to the client.

For example:

  • your client's business activity statements (BAS) to you, but their instalment activity statements (IAS) to the client.
  • your clients' pay as you go (PAYG) instalment rate letters to the client except for Joe Citizen's letter which is to be sent to you.
  • all educational mail for goods and services tax (GST), PAYG, fringe benefits tax (FBT), luxury car tax (LCT) and wine equalisation tax (WET) to the client.

Detailed explanation: ATO – Managing client mail

Primary Contact

A ‘Primary Contact’ has ultimate control.

Entity typePrimary contact
Individuals Only that individual
Company or incorporated association Public officer. Directors can only access information, and must be listed as authorised contacts.
Unincorporated association or body of persons (for example, sporting club, social club or trade union) Office holder

The office holder for an unincorporated association or body of persons is a member of the committee of management. For example, someone who occupies the position of:

  • president
  • vice president
  • treasurer
  • secretary.
Public officer

A public officer must be appointed if the unincorporated association or body of persons is carrying on a business.

School (unless operating as a company) Principal
Partnership Named partners only
Trust Trustee for the trust

If the trustee is a company, it is the public officer.

If the trustee company isn't registered with us, and therefore doesn't have a public officer, it is the director of the trustee company as listed with the Australian Security and Investments Commission (ASIC).

Superannuation entity Trustee for the entity

If the trustee is a company, it is the public officer.

Deceased estate Executor, executrix or administrator of the deceased estate.
Government agency or entity (except schools) Chief executive officer

Authorised Contact

The authorised contact must be:

  • recorded as an authorised contact for the entity
  • able to satisfy POI requirements.

Examples of authorised contacts include:

  • directors
  • registered tax agents
  • registered BAS agents
  • legal practitioners (includes barristers and solicitors)
  • insolvency practitioners (includes liquidators, company administrators or trustees in bankruptcy)
  • power of attorneys (PAT)
  • debt management firms
  • financial counsellors
  • guardians
  • family members or friends

Registered Tax Agents

Registered tax agents have authority to access all roles on their clients' accounts. They can also add, remove and update the list of authorised contacts if they have been given authority to act on behalf of the entity in this capacity.

The registered tax agent is:

  • recorded on the account for the entity.
  • able to satisfy POI requirements.

If the registered tax agent is not recorded on an account, they must both:

  • pass proof of identity for registered agents
  • be able to provide a declaration they have a current signed authority to act on behalf of the taxpayer.

Registered BAS Agents

A BAS agent's authority to act for the taxpayer is much more restricted than a registered tax agent's authority, and is limited to dealings with us in relation to a BAS provision.

Registered BAS agents can also add, remove and update the list of authorised contacts, if they have been given authority to act on behalf of the entity in this capacity.

Who Gets the Mail?

Where a taxpayer is represented by a registered agent, the postal address for service is often the registered agent's address. This means that all correspondence sent to the client's address for service goes to the registered agent. However, there are some instances where the ATO will communicate directly with the taxpayer.

If you represent clients that have a myGov account linked to the ATO, they will receive some communications electronically in their myGov Inbox. These communications will be available for you to view in the Client Communication List (CCL) in the Tax or BAS agent portal.

ATO correspondence to taxpayers with a registered agent will be prioritised for direction to:

  • their myGov Inbox where applicable.
  • the preferred postal address for service of notice.
  • the correspondence channel as set by preference arrangements in our systems.

If the address listed is the taxpayer's address, and not the registered agent's address, then postal correspondence will be sent directly to the taxpayer.

Emails and SMS text messages will be sent to the email address or mobile phone number in our records.

The ATO will advise registered agents when writing directly to their clients

When correspondence is issued directly to clients of registered agents, the registered agent must be informed at least one week before the communication is sent, unless the correspondence will be available in the CCL. The registered agent will need to be informed of:

  • the title of the communication
  • its purpose
  • the names or types of taxpayers who are receiving the communication
  • whether there will be any action required of either the taxpayer or the registered agent
  • any timeframes or due dates involved.
  • Updated: 30th June, 2018
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