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ATO Bolsters Taxpayer Privacy with Agent Nomination Process

Article By Matthew Ramsay | | Accounting & Tax

In an era marked by increasing digital threats and identity theft, the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) has, and continues to take proactive steps to enhance taxpayer privacy and security. One example of this is the implementation of the Agent Nomination Process. This recent requirement, effective from 13 November 2023 for most entities, aims to safeguard sensitive tax and super information by ensuring that only explicitly authorised agents can access information, and act on behalf of taxpayers.

Understanding the Agent Nomination Process

The agent nomination process does not require clients continuing with their existing tax agent to do anything. It applies when taxpayers either switch to a new registered tax or BAS agent or modify the authorisations granted to their existing agent.

Previously, a Tax Agent was able to access the full suite of information held by the ATO, and immediately commence acting on behalf of a taxpayer with the ATO, by only providing very limited identification information for a taxpayer – in some cases for businesses, all the information that was needed was publicly available.

In the wrong hands, the data available was sufficient to take a significant level of control over a taxpayer’s financial affairs, and overall identity theft. The bulk of the resulting fraudulent activity from information obtained in this manner directly involved the ATO, which has driven the ATO’s desire to limit such activity.

The Agent Nomination Process requires the taxpayer themselves to actively appoint agents via the MyGov platform before this information can be accessed. By requiring taxpayers to securely nominate their registered agents, the ATO aims to significantly limit fraudulent activity, which both protects taxpayers and reduces the liability on the ATO to confirm lodgements are valid prior to processing. This helps protect taxpayers as only approved agents can access their information and carry out necessary tasks like lodging tax returns.

Importance of Agent Nomination for Taxpayers

For taxpayers, this process serves as a crucial shield against potential vulnerabilities in their ATO dealings. By nominating a registered agent, individuals and entities can ensure that their tax affairs remain in trusted hands, mitigating risks associated with unscrupulous tax agents or compromised Tax File Numbers.

Moreover, the Agent Nomination Process underscores the significance of safeguarding MyGov accounts. As the gateway to accessing various government services, including ATO interactions, MyGov accounts must be protected diligently to prevent unauthorised access and potential breaches of sensitive taxpayer data.

From time to time, you may notice us asking for certain information during our dealings with you, to confirm that we are indeed dealing with our clients and not someone attempting to fraudulently obtain information. As the ATO bolsters taxpayer privacy with the Agent Nomination Process, it underscores the joint responsibility of taxpayers and registered agents to remain vigilant in upholding stringent security measures.

If you have any queries or concerns about the protection of your personal information, if you have received any notification about possible data breaches entities you deal with, or have any concerns about communication received purporting to be from the ATO or our office, please contact your Altitude Adviser directly.