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Next phase underway in business registration modernisation

Next phase underway in business registration modernisation
Tony Zhang
14 April 2021 — 2 minute read

The Morrison government has reached a new stage in the Modernising Business Registers (MBR) program that will establish a new whole-of-government registry platform.

The government said the appointment of the Commissioner of Taxation as the Commonwealth Registrar (the Registrar) of the Australian Business Registry Services (ABRS) signifies the commencement of the next phase of the MBR program.

The new ABRS, once fully established, will bring together ASIC’s 31 business registers and the Australian Business Register onto a new modern system at the ATO.

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On 15 April 2021, ASIC registry staff will move to the ATO, in a Machinery of Government (MoG) administrative change to help the Registrar.

“The Registrar’s role is to lead and implement the MBR program and perform statutory registry functions and exercise powers under the relevant laws,” the ATO said.

“Initially, this will also include assisting ASIC perform statutory registry functions and exercise its powers as a delegate of ASIC. At a later stage, the Registrar will assume primary responsibility for those functions under law.”

The MBR program will establish a new modern registry service — the ABRS, which will progressively roll out between 2021 and 2024, bringing together the Australian Business Register (ABR) and 31 Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) registers in one place and introducing the new director identification number (director ID) regime.

Minister for Superannuation, Financial Services and the Digital Economy, Senator Jane Hume said there are on average 224,000 new company registrations in Australia each year.

“The new ABRS will mean for each new registration, business owners will have a single entry point through the ATO to establish their business, rather than the current system that has up to seven entry points for various business registry interactions needed to establish a business,” Ms Hume said.

“For the 2.7 million registered companies on the Australian Company Register, these reforms aim to streamline their annual business registry engagement with the government, helping SMEs to save time and money.

“The new system will improve the transparency of publicly held company data by creating a single source of trusted and accessible business data that will provide efficient registry service delivery.

“It will also provide businesses with real-time access to their data and allow them to have more visibility and confidence in their transaction partners. The Registrar will have ongoing flexibility to adapt and respond to changes in technology to improve the user experience and simplify the way people interact with business registers.”

Director identification numbers will also be the first new function of the ABRS to be delivered later this year and is a new requirement for all company directors, according to the ATO.

“Director ID will be a unique identifier that a director will keep forever. An individual will keep their director ID even if they cease to be a director, change their name, or move interstate or overseas,” the ATO said.

“Directors don’t need to do anything now. Soon we will start testing the new application process in a private beta to ensure a seamless user experience.

“When it’s time to apply, directors will be able to use ABRS online services and will sign in using the myGovID app.”

The ATO said this will help prevent the use of fictitious director identities and make it easier for government regulators to trace directors’ relationships with companies over time and go a long way to better identifying and eliminating director involvement in unlawful activity, such as illegal phoenix activity.

“Verifying the identity of directors is important for improving data integrity and helping regulators to detect and deal with illegal phoenixing activities. The Registrar will notify company directors of their obligations under the new director ID regime,” the ATO said.

Next phase underway in business registration modernisation
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