In 2015 TAXVINE No 6 (27 February 2015) MEMBER 32 wrote:
“It is well known that the ATO administers and has responsibility for the Australian Business Register (ABR).
Taxpayers and accountants routinely lodge annual Income Tax Returns with ATO. Where applicable, these tax forms include ABN and current address/contact details. Some tax forms even include a tick-box to indicate if the address has changed since last year.
Would it be too much to ask ATO to use this up-to-date information and automatically update the address and contact details on their ABR? Would this be too much to expect of an $800 million computer system?
Please could TTI engage with ATO and seek a commitment to have this fixed?
Unfortunately, I’m expecting the likely response will be the usual platitudes and motherhood statements prepared by the spin doctors in the ATO’s media unit.
Meanwhile, as the ATO has already been advised of many address and contact changes, I’ll keep ignoring their letters requiring me to update those details again on their clumsy ABR website.
Even the language used in correspondence is aggravating. ‘What you need to do’.
In future, all my correspondence to ATO will also include a heading ‘What you need to do’. Apparently that is considered polite modern business communication.
Thanks to the weekly dose of TAXVINE for helping us retain some sanity.”
THE ATO NOW RESPONDS
“Some tax information is used to update the Australian Business Register (ABR), however, address and contact detail updates are not used to automatically update the register. The reason these updates do not flow through to the ABR lies in the underlying objectives of the ABR as a whole of government business register and income tax returns as taxation returns.
The ABR is a business register that is used by around 460 government agencies to support planning and decision-making on economic development, infrastructure investment, service delivery and disaster response. As such the details within the register have a business information focus and not a taxation focus.
In income tax returns businesses may choose to have the postal address and contact details of their tax agent listed on their tax return. This suits as the first point of contact for tax questions from the ATO, but may not be suitable for the tax agent or the other 460 government agencies seeking to contact the business on non-tax issues.
It is important that the ABR contains up-to-date details business details. Under the ABN Act, ABN holders are required to notify the Registrar within 28 days of any changes to their business information held in the register. To change contact details in the register ABN holders can either ring the ABR on 139226; use their AUSkey to make changes online on abr.gov.au or fill in the Change of Details form.
Notwithstanding the issues with using tax return addresses and contact details the Registrar is looking into how such information could be used, for example where we can identify that the details do not belong to a tax agent. The Registrar is also looking at other business information sources that can be used to keep business details up-to-date such as the use of the corporate reporting through ASIC.”