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  • Client declarations and lodgment online

    Each time you lodge an approved form on behalf of your client, the law requires you to have first received a signed declaration in writing from your client. This requirement includes all approved forms such as activity statements and tax returns.

    On this page:

    Requirements

    Your client is required by law to provide a declaration each time an activity statement or tax return is lodged. They cannot provide a bulk declaration.

    The client declaration must be in writing and state that:

    • they have authorised you to lodge the document and
    • the information is true and correct.

    Your client can choose to provide this declaration by email, fax or in paper form.

    When you lodge your client's document, you must state that you have received your client's declaration.

    Certain requirements must be met when providing a declaration electronically:

    • If information is required to be given in writing it can be given electronically if the person receiving the information consents to receiving it electronically.
    • Consent does not have to be explicit and can be inferred from a person's conduct.
    • A method that is reasonable is used to identify the person's signature (for example, their email address). If your client chooses to send their declaration by email, they do not need to include their scanned signature. The action of sending the email and the agent accepting the information and then using that as a basis for lodging the approved form would be sufficient.
    • You consent (noting this can be inferred by your conduct) to your client's signature being sent to you by this method.
    • It is not necessary to attach the activity statement or tax return to an email providing the declaration. However, your client can choose to do so. If so, when possible, remove any identifying information to ensure that any sensitive information is not accidentally disclosed if the email is received by a person not authorised.

    Your client is required to retain the declaration (or a copy) for up to five years, depending on their circumstances. We recommend you also keep a copy of the declaration for your own records.

    The declaration can be stored electronically regardless of whether it was received by email or in paper form. Paper declarations can be scanned and stored electronically.

    A streamlined process is in place for Single Touch Payroll.

    See also:

    Example of a declaration

    I, (name of business client) authorise (name of agent) to give the (specify the period) activity statement to the Commissioner of Taxation for (entity name).

    I declare that the information provided for the preparation of this activity statement is true and correct.

    I am authorised to make this declaration.

    [Insert for emailed declaration] Type full name and date

    [Insert for paper declaration] Signed: Date:

    Examples

    As the following examples show, no matter what method is used:

    • a declaration must be given each time you lodge an approved form
    • the declaration must be written, for example in an email or letter (a phone conversation is not sufficient)
    • the declaration must state that the  
      • information provided by the taxpayer is true and correct
      • taxpayer has authorised you to lodge the specified approved form.
       

    Example 1: Cloud computing package

    Nick is a tax agent and his client, Aisha, uses a cloud-based software accounting package. On 10 August 2020, she provides Nick with authentication details so he can access her business records and lodge her tax return for the 2019–20 income year.

    Nick must have a declaration in writing from Aisha. She can make the declaration electronically stating that she has authorised Nick to give the document to the Commissioner and that the information is true and correct.

    If the cloud based software accounting package does not include a field for Aisha to provide that declaration then she would need to provide a separate declaration to Nick (which could be by fax or email if she chose to do this electronically). Aisha should ensure that she clearly states which document is being lodged when providing her declaration.

    Aisha's declaration would say:

    I, Aisha O'Brien, declare that the information I provided by software accounting package on 10 August 2020 to Nick Lee, tax agent, in relation to the approved form for the period 1 July 2019 to 30 June 2020 is true and correct and I have authorised Nick Lee to lodge the approved form.

    End of example

     

    Example 2: Email declaration

    Estelle is a tax agent and her client, Ruby, emails her asking her to deal with the ATO on her behalf until otherwise advised.

    The statement 'until otherwise advised' is sufficient authorisation for Estelle to act on behalf of Ruby and Estelle does not have to provide this authorisation on each occasion she wanted to contact the ATO on behalf of Ruby.

    However, Ruby must provide Estelle with a declaration stating that information is 'true and correct' and that Ruby has authorised Estelle to lodge the approved form on each separate occasion that Estelle lodges an approved form on Ruby's behalf.

    Ruby would still need to state on each occasion that Estelle is authorised to lodge the document and the information is true and correct. This could be sent in an email or fax or in writing depending on which option Ruby prefers.

    It would not be necessary to include an actual signature at the end of the email. Ruby's action of sending the email and Estelle accepting the information and then using that as a basis for lodging the approved form would be sufficient.

    End of example

     

    Example 3: Declaration sent by separate email

    Grace phones Duc, a tax agent, and asks that he deal with the ATO on her behalf until otherwise advised.

    Even though Grace has spoken to Duc, she still needs to send the information in writing to him. She sends him an email declaration stating that information is 'true and correct' and that she has authorised Duc to lodge the approved form on her behalf.

    While it would be logical for Grace to include the declaration in the email that includes all the information, it is not a legal requirement and if Grace and Duc choose to, then the declaration could be sent by separate email as long as the relevant approved form was clearly identified.

    End of example

     

    Example 4: Paper form

    Deng, a tax agent, has a client, William, who provides him with an activity statement as a printed excel spread sheet. Deng prepares William's activity statement in paper form and posts this to him to check and approve. Once William checks the paper activity statement he signs and returns it to Deng for lodgment. William has previously provided written authority for Deng to act on his behalf.

    As William has signed a paper activity statement form and completed the required fields which include a signed declaration that the information is true and correct, William has met his client declaration obligations.

    If William had not signed the activity statement, then he would have to make a separate declaration confirming both that the information is true and correct as well as stating he has authorised Deng to lodge the document.

    Although the interaction between Deng and William has occurred by paper, Deng can keep a copy of William's declaration electronically if preferred.

    William could have sent the declaration in an email rather than signing the activity statement. However, he would need to indicate which document that he is providing the declaration for in his email.

    End of example

     

    Example 5: Email

    Terry completes his activity statement and then provides information to his tax agent, Anne, by email and states in the email that authorisation to lodge has been provided.

    As Terry has signed the declaration in the activity statement and the authorisation to lodge has been provided then he has met his legal requirements. Whether the information is faxed or emailed as a portable downloadable file (PDF), the electronic signature provisions would be satisfied.

    End of example

     

    Example 6: Information in separate emails

    Yanni's client, Kate, provides her tax return electronically but doesn’t complete the declaration field and then sends a separate email advising that the tax return she sent previously is true and correct. Kate has met the requirements for 'true and correct' however the declaration has not been sufficiently specified. It would not be enough to state that the tax return sent previously is true and correct. That could refer to any tax return Kate sent previously and it needs to be more specific, by, for example, referring to the year of the tax return or the date of the previous email.

    End of example

    See also:

    Last modified: 01 Jul 2021QC 41425