As we step into a new era of digital security and compliance, the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) has introduced a crucial update to the agent nomination process. This change, effective from 13 November 2023, impacts all entities with an Australian Business Number (ABN), excluding sole traders.

The update is designed to enhance the security of tax and superannuation information, ensuring that only authorised agents can access and act on behalf of businesses and Self-Managed Super Funds (SMSFs).

Understanding the Agent Nomination Process

The agent nomination process is a new security measure by the ATO to combat increasing attempts at identity theft and fraud. It applies when you change tax agents or update the authorisations for your existing agent. This process is mandatory for:

  • Companies, including strata title bodies
  • Partnerships
  • Trusts
  • Not-for-profits
  • Joint ventures
  • Cooperatives
  • SMSFs
  • APRA-regulated superannuation funds

By requiring a secure nomination of tax agents, BAS agents, or payroll service providers, the ATO aims to ensure that your activities such as tax return lodgments and super information are truly done on your behalf.

Agent Nomination Process For Business Owners

When you’re ready to bring a new registered tax or BAS agent on board or need to update the authorisation for your current agent, the ATO mandates a specific nomination process through Online Services for Business.

This process is vital to grant your agent legitimate access to your accounts, enabling them to represent your tax and super affairs accurately.

What You Need to Do:

  1. Nominate Your Agent
    Start by nominating your registered agent in Online Services for Business. This is a prerequisite for them to access your account and act on your behalf.
  2. Follow the Steps
    The ATO provides a detailed client-to-agent linking guide. These steps will walk you through the nomination process and assist in setting up Online Services for Business if you haven’t already.
  3. Seek Support if Needed
    Assistance is available by directly contacting ATO or through your registered agent. While your agent cannot complete the nomination on your behalf online, they can guide you through the process.
  4. Notify Your Agent
    After submitting your nomination, inform your nominated agent. They have 28 calendar days to add your business as a client before the nomination expires. Remember, the ATO does not send automated notifications to your agent about the nomination.

Extending a Nomination

  • If your agent requires more time to add you as a client, the “Extend” feature in Online Services for Business allows you to add 28 days to your nomination.
  • This option becomes available the day after your initial submission and remains accessible until the original 28-day period expires.
  • Should a nomination expire, a new nomination must be submitted as extensions are not possible post-expiration.

Client-to-Agent Linking

The Client-to-Agent linking requirement applies to all businesses, with specific protocols for new and existing funds changing agents. This step is essential for ensuring that your business complies with the latest ATO regulations and maintains the integrity of its financial and tax-related activities.

The Client-to-Agent linking process is required only if you: 

  • have a new tax or BAS agent, or payroll service provider to represent you.
  • provide extra authorisation to your existing authorised agent 

You are advised to contact ATO or your registered agent if you need guidance but keep in mind that while your agent can assist you, they cannot complete the process for you.

Getting Started with Online Services for Business

Before you can nominate an agent, you’ll need access to the ATO’s Online Services for Business. If you’re the principal authority of your business, the first step is to set up your Digital ID through the myGovID app. Depending on the documents you have available, you can opt for a:

  • Strong myGovID – by verifying your Australian passport and either birth certificate, citizenship certificate, driver’s licence, or Medicare card.
  • Standard myGovID – by verifying 2 Australian identity documents. 

Remember, your myGovID is personal and cannot be shared.

Linking Your myGovID to Your ABN

Once your myGovID is set up, link it to your Australian Business Number (ABN) using the Relationship Authorisation Manager (RAM). This step is straightforward for those with a Strong myGovID. However, if you have a Standard myGovID or are a primary person not listed as an individual associate in the Australian Business Register, you’ll need to contact the ATO directly.

Nominate Your Authorised Agent

With access to Online Services for Business, you can now nominate your authorised agent through the steps outlined in the first part of this guide. 

The ATO’s new agent nomination process is a significant step towards enhancing the security of Australia’s tax and super systems. But by staying informed and proactive, you can ensure that your business or SMSF navigates these changes smoothly.

For personalised assistance and expert advice on complying with these new requirements, Accounts All Sorted is here to be your trusted partner. Contact us today to get started.

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