Public officers play an important role in an Australian company. It is a legal requirement for companies to appoint one as soon as possible after the company has been registered. Companies must ensure that they do not overlook this role as public officers are mainly responsible for a company’s tax affairs. Failure to appoint a public officer could lead to penalties.
This guide explains more about the public officer’s roles and responsibilities in an Australian business.
What is a public officer, and who can be one?
The public officer is the company’s representative and contact point to the Australian Taxation Office (ATO). Under section 252 of the Income Tax Assessment Act 1936, all companies must appoint one public officer to ensure that the company complies with the ATO.
To be a public officer, the individual must meet the following requirements:
- Must be at least 18 years of age
- Originally resides in Australia
- Is capable of understanding the nature of the person’s appointment as the public officer of the company
Usually, the public officer is either the company director or an accountant, as they are closely involved with its tax affairs. However, the public officer does not always have to be an employee; you can also appoint an external accountant to be the public officer.
Appointment of the public officer
The company’s constitution or other governing documents must determine who can appoint a public officer on behalf of the company. Occasionally, this responsibility is handled by the director or board of directors.
The person appointed as the public officer must provide consent to act as the public officer in writing, and the company must keep the written consent within the company records. The Notice of appointment of a public officer form must be completed and submitted to the ATO to notify them about the public officer.
The public officer must be appointed within three months of operating or receiving income in Australia.
Changing the public officer
If there is a change of public officers, the company must notify the ATO within 28 days. The most common reasons why a company may change its public officer are:
- They die
- Removed from office via the passing of a resolution
- Mental incapacity
- No longer living in Australia
- Fails to satisfy the provisions in the company’s constitution
Public officer responsibilities
Public officers in an Australian company are responsible for the company’s tax obligations under the Income Tax Assessment Act 1936. The public officer also acts as the company’s representative to the Australian Tax Office. They must file company tax returns, sign returns to be lodged with the ATO, maintain records, manage communications with the ATO and taxpayer registration and ensure that the company meets its tax requirements.
Any penalties the company incurs for failing to meet its obligations under the Act are also the public officer’s liability.
Public officers are the main point of contact between the company and the ATO. They must ensure that the company is compliant with the tax obligations under the Income Tax Assessment Act 1936. An individual appointed as a public officer must ordinarily reside in Australia and have a clear understanding of tax compliance and requirements in Australia.
Acclime Australia provides professional public officer services to ensure your company meets its tax obligations accurately and on time. Besides public officers, our full capabilities include resident directors, core compliance and accountancy support, and CFO and registered office services. Get in touch with us to discuss how we can help elevate your compliance.