A determination — because ‘death’ lost contact with ‘taxes’ temporarily

When the ATO’s new Online services for agents replaced the tax and BAS agent portals, practitioners were thrown in the deep end when a flaw became obvious in the functionality between the old and new systems. In the new Online services, agents have been unable to view the information of their deceased clients, despite previously having access to it in the portals.

A “work-around” has now been put in place in the form of an administration determination, Taxation Administration (Remedial Power – Disclosure of Protected Information by Taxation Officers) Determination 2020. The determination has been issued under the Commissioner’s remedial powers.

However the above is a legislative instrument that can be disallowed by the Federal Parliament.  If allowed by the Parliament, it will effectively amend the Taxation Administration Act to permit a taxation officer to give information about a deceased taxpayer to a registered tax agent, BAS agent or lawyer that represents the executor or legal personal representative (LPR) of the deceased person. 

The instrument must sit in Parliament for 15 sitting days without being disallowed before it comes into operation.

In the meantime, the ATO has a developed a “deceased estate data package”. The ATO says where the executor or administrator manages income after the person’s death (for example, where they continue to run a business for the deceased estate) and applies for a trust tax file number, they can appoint a legal practitioner or tax agent as an authorised contact.

The authorised contact can access information of the deceased estate trust only, being information obtained by the ATO after the individual’s death. The ATO can then help identify the assets and income stream of the deceased by extracting the relevant data from its records and sending you a Deceased estate data package.

The package will contain (if it exists) the following information:

  • individual tax return information for the last three income years
  • an extract of income and investment data for the last three income years
  • an extract of notices of assessment issued for the last three income years
  • copy of the most recent statement of account
  • any outstanding debts with the ATO
  • any superannuation accounts identified
  • payroll data received for the current year.

Registered tax agents who have been appointed by the executor or administrator to represent the deceased client’s estate, can request a Deceased estate data package via Online services for agents by:

Selecting Communication then Practice mail and select:

  • New
  • the topic Income Tax
  • the subject Copy of return
  • Enquiry type General enquiry
  • in the message field type ‘Deceased estate data package’ request
  • attach a written request including;
    • deceased client details including TFN, name and date of birth
    • executor or administrator details; name and current postal address
    • tax agent details; registered agent number, registered name
  • signature of authorised person and date of request, then
  • select Send.

NOTE: Due to legal restrictions not allowing the ATO to provide the deceased person’s information to registered tax agents, the information package will be sent directly to the executor or administrator.

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