Institute of Certified Bookkeepers

Update 26 January, 2018:   Proposed law open for comment (attached below)


Businesses with an uncontrolled tax debt of more than $10,000 for over 90 days will be notified to commercial credit rating bureaus.

Note: 88% of debts are paid within 90 days.

This measure is aimed to follow up on the businesses who are not engaging with the ATO about managing their $10,000+ debt. Initially the measure is aimed at companies and then will extend to others.

The Implementation

  1. If a tax debt is unpaid for 90 days after the amount of debt has been made known to the ATO, i.e. you have lodged the form; or the date the payment should have been paid if the business is compliant.
  2. Normal debt collection activities should have already occurred to follow-up the outstanding debt.
  3. Only then will a “pre-reporting warning letter” be issued and will allow 21 days for the business to respond.
  4. Only if the Business has not engaged with the ATO at all, will the amount of debt be notified to the credit bureaus.

What If…

What if a series of BAS (catch-up work) has been lodged for a client that should have been submitted at least a year ago? Then this debt is already well over 90 days.

Answer: The process will only be commenced after the debt becomes known so the 90 day clock starts from “lodgement”. (this is subject to confirmation by the ATO)

What if it was an ATO mistake and it should never have been referred?

The ATO has an agreement to have the record expunged within 48 hours. In fact, it goes further that the ATO Advised that the agreement with the Credit Reference Bureaus is once the tax debit is paid, the record will be deleted from the businesses records.  (ICB note that the proposed law does not include this as a requirement, the EM says the ATO will instruct the bureau to remove the debt from their reports.  We have submitted this is NOT good enough)

ICB Commentary

“ATO fix the debt collection basics before implementing the big stick”
  • ATO collection processes that ignore the fact that we the intermediaries have an extended lodgement date, creates immense angst.
  • SMS messages to clients about lodging BAS before they are due.
  • The Portal showing the wrong due date for lodgement (and therefore payment).
  • Allow credit card payments to be pre-set for future payment date.

In general we support the initiative.

Businesses with uncontrolled amounts owed to the ATO should be followed up.

We encourage the ATO to follow up those non-compliant clients however, do a better job of integrating BAS Agents into the process and do a better job of the other follow-up work done with our clients.


  • Updated: 26th January, 2018