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Getting Technical: Client Verification and Proof of Identity

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Both the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) and the Tax Practitioners Board (TPB) are placing an increasing emphasis on the importance of registered tax agents and BAS agents verifying the identity of their clients. This has stemmed not only from the increasing incidence of identity theft and fraud, but also from the heightened attention being given across many industries to anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism.

On 31 January 2022, the TPB released a Practice Note to provide practical assistance and explanation. The Practice Note, entitled TPB(PN) 5/2022 Proof of identity requirements for client verification, follows significant consultation with industry groups, professional associations and registered tax practitioners (i.e. registered tax agents and registered BAS agents). In conjunction with the release of the TPB’s Practice Note, the ATO have published extensive guidelines for registered agents using online services for agents (OSFA) or practitioner lodgement services (PLS) through software. The release of this information is part of the ATO’s transition towards mandating minimum standards of client verification. Although further consultation will occur before any standards become mandated, it is important to understand the shape that these guidelines are taking, firstly as both organisations are encouraging a voluntary adoption in the meantime, and secondly, to provide you with an opportunity to examine your own internal practices with a forward-looking view.

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31 Mar 2022
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