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ATO seeks input on deceased estates

The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) is seeking practitioner feedback on its involvement with deceased estates.

It hopes to follow this with direct consultation with interested legal professionals.

The Inspector-General of Taxation and Taxation Ombudsman (IGTO) published a final report, Death and Taxes: An Investigation into ATO systems and process for dealing with deceased estates, on 7 July 2020 and the ATO is developing implementation plans to address the report’s 10 key recommendations.

The IGTO has recommended that the ATO:

  • Improve guidance material and procedures for escalating more complex enquiries, particularly for those without probate.
  • Improve notification of death processes and explore whole-of-government and digital opportunities.
  • Make lodgment easier for deceased estates.
  • Engage with stakeholders to understand challenges and legal complexities.
  • Improve access to information and all correspondence for tax practitioners appointed by the legal personal representative of the estate.

From the 10 recommendations made, the ATO identified the following areas that it would like to seek written feedback on, followed by consultation with the profession:

  1. How can the ATO help executors and agents better understand how to finalise the tax affairs for a deceased person?
  2. How can the ATO improve its Trust tax return guidance material around deceased estates (Schedule 8)?
  3. What would be more effective ways for the ATO to provide public advice and guidance on deceased estate tax matters? Traditional channels (improved web content), guides, a booklet?

The focus of the IGTO recommendation was the taxation of the deceased estate according to general taxation of trust principles, not any testamentary trust established by will. We would ask you to confine your response to the taxation of the deceased estate.

  • When and how an executor or tax agent should apply for a deceased estate trust TFN.
  • Should tax agents have the facility to digitally notify the ATO of a death of one of their clients?
  • What types of complex deceased estates issues require further public advice and guidance from the ATO? (Please list in order of priority)

See additional information at ato.gov.au on:

Interested practitioners can be invited to take part in the consultation. Prior to establishing these consultations, the ATO is seeking written feedback on any of the above matters and interest via email to Legal Profession Relationships by 20 November. Practitioners are also invited to submit feedback to policy@qls.com.au by 17 November in order to inform a QLS submission.

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