A public officer is a company’s representative to the ATO and is responsible for the company’s obligations under the Income Tax Assessment Act 1936 Section 252. 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
- A resident of Australia
- Aware of all obligations & requirements of the appointment to this position
In most cases a director of the company is also a public officer, but they are not required to be.
A public officer does not need to be nominated as part of the company formation& registration, but the Australian Taxation Office must be informed of an appointment if or when the company carries on with business or derives income. This notification must take place within 3 months. The penalties for not doing this are severe.
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 records. 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 the person acting as public officer changes the ATO must be notified within 28 days of the change.