160,000 Australians die each year, and many of them have outstanding tax debts.
Whilst you might say good luck to that, the people left behind, including the executors, children and other family, are often left with a nightmare dealing with outstanding tax debts.
Often the people who die may have already retired, and therefore often haven’t filled out a tax return for many years.
Research suggests that around half of all Australians die without a Will. This can create a whole host of complications for the deceased’s loved ones, who have to manage the estate and the burdens that come with it (locating documents, sorting out taxes, debts, etc.) while also managing their own grief.
In a recent report delving into the complicated area of death and taxes, Australia’s tax ombudsman made the recommendation to develop and implement digital death certificates – a digital notification of a death that is shared between all layers of government.
This would mean that representatives of a deceased person would only need to notify the federal government once about the deceased’s passing, and then all relevant government agencies would have that information and be able to deal with those representatives, rather than each agency requiring its own documentation and compliance measures.
The report notes that currently the ATO does not have a dedicated team to deal with deceased estate matters, unlike other government agencies.
Martin Bullock Lawyers believes that digital death certificates are a good idea. We have spoken at length in our recent series on estate planning and aged care about the difficulties of managing a loved one’s financial affairs, the costs involved, and the mental and emotional toll it can take. At MBL, we support any directives aimed at making it easier for people and families to sort out the affairs of their loved ones, and at reducing the amount of unnecessary hoops they must jump through during what is already a difficult time.
For more information about how digital death certificates might work, have a read of this ABC News article.
If you have an enquiry about Tax Law, Wills & Estates, or any other legal matter, then give Greg Martin a call on 02 9687 9322.