A public officer is a company’s representative to the ATO and is responsible for the company’s obligations under Section 252 of the Income Tax Assessment Act 1936.  The public officer is responsible for the company complying with the act and is also liable for the same penalties as the company if there are any violations.

A company only ever has one public officer who needs to be:

  • At least 18 years of age; and
  • Ordinarily reside in Australia; and
  • Be capable of understanding the nature of the person’s appointment as the public officer of the company.

The public officer does not need to be a director of the company though they often are.  Accountants and tax agents can also act as the public officer.

 

When does a company officer need to be appointed?

A public officer does not need to be appointed as part of the company formation.  However, the ATO must be notified of the appointment within 3 months of a new company carrying on a business or deriving income.  The penalties for not doing this are severe and currently amount to $210 a day.

 

How does a company appoint a public officer? 

Ordinarily a resolution is passed at a meeting of the directors appointing the public officer.  The person in question needs to sign a form consenting to act as the company’s public officer.  This form should be stored with the company share register.  Once consent has been obtained a ‘Notice of appointment of public officer’ needs to be sent to the ATO informing them of the appointment.

If a person acting as public officer changes the ATO must be notified within 28 days of the change.

 

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