Tax spends $3.2 million on crackdown ad campaign ahead of director ID deadline

The Australian Taxation Office will launch a $3.2 million ad and publicity blitz to entice late business leaders to get their mandatory credentials, before the November 30 deadline, as major anti-phoenix and anti-fraud measures come into effect.

Government tender documents reveal agency Universal McCann Media scored the lucrative job under the government’s existing master media buy deal as the campaign was quietly launched last week by the Financial Services Minister Stephen Jones.

Anyone who is a director of a company, registered Australian body, registered foreign company or Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander company is required to register and a director’s identification number ( Director’s ID) under changes to the Treasury Acts passed in 2020.

The laws came after a succession of high-profile corporate implosions and frauds, including the Plutus Payroll scandal, which ultimately prompted the Australian Securities and Investments Commission to centralize the identities of company directors on a single register and to require these directors to prove their identity. .

“By applying for your director ID card, you are helping to protect the community, including small businesses and workers, from those who do the wrong thing,” Jones said.

Director ID registration work is undertaken by the ATO as part of the recently established Australian Business Registration Services (ABRS) and uses a common infrastructure and standards with myGovID credentials which can also be used as a means of proof of identity.

“Director ID is a unique 15-digit ID that is quick and easy to request online. Directors only need to apply once and will keep their director ID card forever,” an ATO spokesperson said. Mandarin.

“The introduction of director identification aims to create a fairer business environment and increase the accuracy of business records.

“Director ID will help prevent the use of false and fraudulent director identities and make it easier for government regulators to trace directors’ relationships with companies over time.”

This last point is crucial because it will allow bodies like ASIC, police, tax and other government agencies to join companies run by people banned as directors in other jurisdictions or who change of name or identity to avoid detection.

It will also bring much greater transparency and clarity around the creation of so-called “straw directors” that are commonly used in phoenix and the stripping of corporate assets to leave liabilities in a worthless shell.

While the ASIC has primary transport or company and business records, the ATO has a vested interest in weeding out deceptive and dishonest administrators, as it is often the biggest creditor when companies are stripped and abandoned, leaving behind them unpaid tax bills.

In the case of the Plutus Payroll scandal, where billions in wages were passed on but tax deductions diverted, straw managers were used to obscure the identities of the main culprits.

Subsequently, the ATO picks up the megaphone.

“Some people don’t realize they are a director of a company. People running a business that is a small business, self-directed super fund, non-profit, or even a large sports club, are very likely to be directors and will need to apply for a director ID card, the ATO spokesman said.

“Some people think their registered tax agent can apply for their director’s ID card on their behalf, but that’s not true. All company admins must apply for their admin ID card themselves, as they are required to verify their identity. This robust identification process will help prevent the use of false and fraudulent administrator identities. »


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