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Disclosure of protected information relating to deceased estates

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There have been significant concerns raised that agents and legal practitioners have been unable to access information that relates to a deceased's affairs as a result of the change from the tax agent portal to ATO online services for agents. As a result, executors and administrators are forced to deal directly with the ATO. As they often lack knowledge of the tax system, the process of dealing with date of death returns has become more complicated, manual and paper-based, slowing down the process and causing delays.

The ATO has registered the Taxation Administration (Remedial Power - Disclosure of Protected Information by Taxation Officers) Determination 2020 (CRP 2020/1) which ensures that a taxation officer will be able to disclose protected information of a deceased person to the registered tax agent, BAS agent, or legal practitioner of an executor or administrator of the estate of the individual who has died. Effectively, it will allow tax agents to deal with the tax affairs of the deceased through ATO online services in the same way that they deal with any other client. However, the approval process is not expected to be completed until mid-May.

As an interim measure, the ATO has released a deceased estate data package. This extracts relevant tax and income information about a deceased taxpayer from the ATO's systems. The ATO will, on request, provide this information to an executor or administrator who has received a grant of probate or letters of administration but not, generally speaking, to a tax agent unless the agent is also the executor or administrator of the deceased estate.

Providing the information exists, the package will contain the following:

  • individual tax return information for the last 3 income years;
  • an extract of income and investment data for the last 3 income years;
  • an extract of notices of assessment issued for the last 3 income years;
  • copy of the most recent statement of account;
  • any outstanding ATO debts;
  • any superannuation accounts identified; and
  • payroll data received for the current year.

If additional information is required, the ATO should be advised. The release sets out how the package can be obtained.

Sources: www.legislation.gov.au, www.ato.gov.au

 

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