The Tax Institute, along with other professional bodies, have raised a number of concerns around the revised proof of identity (POI) procedures which the ATO has recently implemented. The POI procedures can be viewed on the ATO website. Changes to the POI procedures were deemed necessary because the Tax Practitioners Board has published tax agent numbers on its website.
It is in the interests of the ATO, tax agents and taxpayers to ensure POI procedures are robust. The procedures should help keep confidential taxpayer information secure and only accessible by those who are authorised to do so. However, this goal needs to be balanced against the convenience of agents, particularly in terms of the time and effort it takes to satisfy POI.
In response to the concerns that have been raised, the ATO has been working to find additional ways that POI can be satisfied, in a manner that is convenient to agents and fits within their system requirements. The ATO is investigating if and how the changes that have been suggested by the professional bodies are feasible within their systems. This is an ongoing process.
The ATO will be shortly releasing an updated fact sheet advising agents on how they can satisfy the new POI requirements. The ATO has also undertaken an extensive training program with their officers, to ensure they understand the new POI requirements and can consistently and fairly apply them. This is the case in both outbound and inbound call situations. There may still be cases (hopefully isolated) where officers do not adhere to POI procedures, and the ATO is interested to hear from agents when this occurs. If you have any examples of specific instances where POI procedures were not properly applied, please contact us at email@example.com so we can raise it with the ATO.
The Tax Institute will be continuing our discussions with the ATO on how POI procedures can be improved. We encourage agents who have constructive ideas about improvements that can be made to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.