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MEMBER 133 writes:

"I refer to the latest broadcast message about Proof of Identity (POI).

It is time the ATO started to work with Tax Agents and not against us.

Quite obviously now we must ask the same questions when ATO staff call us, or else get them to send their queries in writing which a great many do not want to do.

It is time we all started co-operating and not making life harder for the humble tax agent. The ATO are constantly pushing more work onto the tax agent and yet they fail to really understand what we have to do, including wasting sometimes several hours on their phone system only to go nowhere."

The Tax Institute's Tax Counsel Tamera Lang comments:

The Tax Institute has been working with the ATO to improve its POI procedures. The procedures must be robust so the protect confidential taxpayer information, yet should not cause undue inconvenience to tax agents. The ATO has observed an increase in attempted identity theft and other information security issues, and hence there is a rightful focus on ensuring POI procedures are observed and taxpayer confidentiality is maintained.

Tax agents are reminded that they are entitled to ask POI questions when they receive a call from an ATO officer. Agents may ask the ATO officer for their full name, extension number (if available) and the name of the officer’s team leader (and their extension number). Agents may also ask the ATO officer to confirm their identity by either faxing or emailing a letter on ATO letterhead. We encourage agents who are concerned about the veracity of an ATO officer to ask for these details. All of the POI information is available on the ATO's factsheet which was released this week.

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