Recently we have seen a wave of increased cyber hacks, with criminals impersonating legitimate users to obtain or lodge Australian Tax Office (ATO) information fraudulently.  In light of this, the ATO is rolling out a new linking process to further strengthen the security of their online services; moving away from the current process of written authorisation. The ATO has cited increasingly sophisticated, unauthorised attempts to access taxpayer data and commit refund fraud as the driver behind the change.

Taxation and BAS (business activity statement) agents and payroll service providers are unfortunately not immune to fraud and identity theft. To counter the increased risk, the ATO is strengthening their front-end controls to:

Ensure only authorised agents or payroll service providers can link to your accounts and access your tax/super details;

Help protect clients and agents;

Give agents more confidence in the identity of their new client/s; and

Bring their processes into line with best practice and community expectations.

This will complement enhanced security measures such as client verification practices and Relationship Authorisation Manager (RAM).

Taxpayers will need to nominate an agent via ATO Online Services should they engage a new tax, BAS or payroll service provider, or are providing extra authorisation to their existing arrangement, such as adding activity statements or a new entity in their group.  Your agent will be able to provide you with a step-by-step guide on the linking process.

It’s important to note that existing client links are not affected, and no action is required if the existing arrangements don’t change.  

The process is still in rollout phase.  A successful pilot has been run in mid-2022, and from December 2022, the process was expanding, starting with large, public business downwards.  

Whilst it will be some time until Bundaberg businesses may be affected, it will be important to work towards the linking requirement.  If your business hasn’t already set up online services for business, please speak with the ATO or your accountant about getting started.  


Karen Peall is Executive Manager of Lyons Judge Bundaberg and has more than 20 years’ experience in accounts and taxation.