From the Deputy Registrar Michelle Crosby
Welcome to the first edition for 2021!
Last year, the ATO faced unprecedented challenges that led to rapid shifts in the way we operate. Despite the urgent need to support the community and deliver the government’s COVID-19 stimulus measures, we remained focused on our work to modernise business registry services. I’m very excited to share with you some important milestones for the Modernising Business Registers (MBR) program, as well as some of our other recent activities.
On 13 April 2021, the Minister for Superannuation, Financial Services and the Digital Economy, Senator Jane Hume, announced the appointment of the Commissioner of Taxation, Chris Jordan as the Registrar of the Australian Business Registry Services (ABRS). This new registry service will bring together the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) registers and the Australian Business Register (ABR) onto a new modern system managed by the ATO.
On 15 April 2021, ASIC registry staff moved to the ATO in a Machinery of Government administrative change. We are very glad to welcome our new colleagues and look forward to working as one team to deliver efficient and effective registry services whilst we modernise Australia’s business registers.
The director identification number (director ID) initiative is progressing well thanks to support from our stakeholders. This is a joint effort and we couldn’t do it without the many people who have given their time to help design and test this important initiative. Recent public consultation processes are also bringing us another step closer to implementation.
We were also pleased to showcase the MBR program to the Assistant Minister to the Prime Minister and Cabinet, the Hon Ben Morton MP, during his visit to the ATO in December 2020. Minister Morton is responsible for the government’s deregulation reform agenda and was very interested in how the registry transformation will reduce the regulatory burden on businesses.
In ABR news, our teams are working with stakeholders to improve the accuracy of ABR data on the physical addresses of businesses, which will help ensure support is provided to those who need it most, especially during emergencies. The 2019–20 bushfires crisis emphasised the need for accurate business data, particularly location data.
In February, the Registrar and I were also pleased to host the first Business Registry Strategic Advisory Council (BRSAC) meeting of the year. These meetings are always a great opportunity to engage with the business sector and government partners on our latest work and discuss how we can improve the registry experience and provide better services for the community.
I look forward to sharing more news through the year about the progress of the MBR program and our work to support the community through the ABR.
Appointment of the Registrar
The appointment of the Commissioner as the Registrar of the ABRS means that he is now responsible for assisting ASIC to perform its registry functions (under a delegation from ASIC), including company and business name registrations. He will assume primary responsibility for those registry functions as the registers are moved onto the new registry system. The appointment does not affect registry obligations for ASIC clients or how they interact with ASIC at this time.
The Commissioner, as Registrar, will also administer director IDs and continue to administer ABR functions.
Minister Morton’s visit on the MBR program
In December, a team of senior ATO staff hosted a visit from the Assistant Minister to the Prime Minister and Cabinet, the Hon Ben Morton MP. The team showcased the MBR program, focusing on how it will transform the business registration and regulatory experience.
The MBR program is a key reform under the government’s deregulation reform agenda, overseen by the Deregulation Taskforce established by Minister Morton. Minister Morton showed strong interest in how the future registry service will cut red tape and support business participation in the evolving digital economy.
The ATO team emphasised the MBR program’s user-centred design approach and outlined the consultation and engagement activities being undertaken with a wide variety of stakeholders across the business registry ecosystem.
Director ID update
You may have seen the recent public consultation processes undertaken by the Treasury to support the director ID initiative.
The first process sought views from the public on the proposed data standard and disclosure framework. These are legislative instruments that describe information supplied to, and released from, the Registrar.
The second process sought views on draft legislative instruments relating to transitional application periods for directors to apply for a director ID.
Directors don’t need to do anything now. Soon we will start testing the new application process in a private beta to ensure a seamless user experience.
You can stay up to date on the director ID initiative at the ATO website.
Integrity of ABR data
Maintaining the integrity of ABR data is important as business information is used by government agencies for a range of purposes, including disaster response and recovery, infrastructure planning, compliance and service delivery.
Inaccurate ABR data can sometimes impact the ability of government agencies to provide crucial support to businesses. One key example is when businesses have listed their tax or BAS agent’s address as the physical address of their business on the ABR.
Providing accurate physical address details helps ensure businesses receive timely support, which is often targeted based on local government areas or, in the case of disaster situations, a specified radius of the disaster location. Businesses who prefer to have ABR communications sent to their agent can do this by listing their agent’s address as the business’ postal address on the ABR.
ABR teams are currently working with various stakeholder forums, other government agencies and representatives of the agent community to highlight the importance of accurate physical location data and to encourage agents and their clients to update their details.
Along with the physical address details, it’s essential that Australian business number (ABN) holders keep their other details up to date, including key contact information. If an ABN holder doesn’t appear to be using their ABN, we may contact them about cancelling it to support ABR integrity.
Further information about entitlement to an ABN can be found at the ABR website.
BRSAC meeting – February 2021
For the first Business Registry Strategic Advisory Council (BRSAC) meeting of 2021, members received updates on progress against the roadmap for the Registrar’s 2024 Vision, development of the new registry service’s brand and identity, and progress on the director ID initiative. Members also considered implications for the ABR from the recommendations of the Royal Commission into National Natural Disaster Arrangements.
Discussions on how we are ensuring that ABR data meets the evolving needs of the community and government were very constructive, focusing on making it as easy as possible for ABN holders to comply with their registry obligations.
The Registrar also acknowledged the efforts of approximately 5,000 ATO staff who supported the government’s COVID-19 stimulus initiatives, praising the flexibility and empathy shown by staff.
The next BRSAC meeting is scheduled for July.