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Protocols for contacting you or your clients

Situations where we may contact your clients directly and how we will inform you.

Last updated 13 November 2022

What the protocols do

These protocols provide a framework for effective and efficient communication when we make contact with taxpayers who have a registered tax or BAS agent.

The protocols apply to all correspondence we initiate – however, they do not apply to correspondence initiated by the taxpayer directly.

Where a taxpayer is represented by a registered agent, the postal address for service is often the registered agent's address. This means that all correspondence sent to the client's address for service goes to the registered agent. However, there are some instances where we will communicate directly with the taxpayer.

If you represent clients that have a myGov account linked to the ATO, they will receive some communications from us electronically in their myGov Inbox. These communications will be available for you to view in the Communication history in Online services for agents.

General principle

Our correspondence to taxpayers with a registered agent will be prioritised for direction to:

  • Online services for agents, when the client's communication preferences have been set to your practice
  • their myGov Inbox where applicable
  • the preferred postal address for service of notice
  • the correspondence channel as set by preference arrangements in our systems.

If the address listed is the taxpayer's address, and not the registered agent's address, then we send postal correspondence directly to the taxpayer.

We will send SMS text messages and emails to the mobile phone number or email address in our records.

Situations where we may contact the taxpayer directly, without informing the registered agent, are limited to:

  • education letters for taxpayers
  • marketing and research
  • when a letter to registered agent has not resulted in action required
  • legal documents required by law to be served personally on a taxpayer, or at the registered office of a company
  • large business taxpayers
  • where a registered agent has notified preferences for correspondence to be sent to the client
  • where there is no recent evidence of registered agent and client relationship
  • high-risk situations where the taxpayer is suspected of being seriously non-compliant – for example, of the taxpayer is suspected of being involved in fraudulent activities, offshore secrecy havens or tax evasion.
  • alerts for changes to a self-managed superfund (SMSF) to reduce the risk of fraud and misconduct, including when
    • a new SMSF is registered
    • changes are made to an existing SMSF's information such as bank account details, electronic service address (ESA), authorised contacts or members
    • a super fund verifies the SMSF's details before processing a rollover.

A business area may need to communicate directly with registered agent clients but doesn't satisfy one of the exceptions listed. In this case, the business area must send a brief to the Assistant Commissioner, Individuals and Intermediaries, for consideration. If necessary, this will be taken to the Tax Practitioner Stewardship Group (TPSG) for their review and input.

Advising registered agents when writing directly to their clients

When we issue correspondence directly to clients of registered agents and it doesn't satisfy one of the above exceptions, the registered agent must be informed at least one week before the communication is sent, unless the correspondence will be available in the Communication history. We will inform the registered agent of:

  • the title of the communication
  • its purpose
  • the names or types of taxpayers who are receiving the communication
  • whether there will be any action required of either the taxpayer or the registered agent
  • any timeframes or due dates involved.

If there are a large number of clients of registered agents involved, we may publish an article to clarify any required action or advice. This will be: