The Australian Government has announced a review into the effectiveness of the Tax Practitioners Board, and the operation of the Tax Agent Services Act 2009 and the Tax Agent Services Regulations 2009, which establish the regulatory regime for tax practitioners in Australia.

The review will consider whether the legislative and governance framework for the Tax Practitioners Board delivers on its policy objectives to ensure that tax agent services are provided to the public in accordance with appropriate standards of professional and ethical conduct. There are over 77,000 practitioners registered with the Board.

The review will provide another opportunity for the Government to address issues concerning the black economy arising from the Black Economy Taskforce’s Final Report.

In particular, the review will:

  • Examine if the legislative framework is operating as intended and continues to be fit for purpose and meet the objectives of the Act.
  • Examine if the governance framework is operating as intended and continues to be fit for purpose.
  • Consider the appropriateness of the Tax Practitioners Board’s governance arrangements.
  • Consider whether the tax agent services legislation supports the Tax Practitioners Board in responding to known and emerging issues.
  • Examine whether the powers and the functions of the Tax Practitioners Board are sufficient to enable the objects of the legislative framework to be met.
  • Consider any other matters that may enhance the regulatory environment that tax practitioners operate under, including the interaction with the regulation of relevant related professional activities.

Mr Keith James has been appointed to chair the review and will be assisted by the Department of the Treasury.

Mr James has decades of legal and tax experience including as a registered tax agent, in leading firms. He was appointed to the Board of Taxation in March 2004 and as its Deputy Chair in 2011. Mr James’ involvement with the tax profession includes his roles as Chair of the Taxation Centre of Excellence and the National Tax Advisory Committee for CPA Australia.

Submissions in response to the terms of reference are due by April 12 and can be emailed to [email protected].

Some focusing questions for submissions could be:

  1. Are the governance arrangements for the Tax Practitioners Board working effectively and could they be improved?
  2. Are the qualification and experience requirements for individuals seeking to become a registered tax practitioner, or to renew their registration, appropriate?
  3. Are the Tax Practitioners Board’s compliance and investigation powers and functions appropriate?
  4. What other legislative measures could be implemented to further protect consumers of tax services?
  5. Is the ‘safe harbour’ provision in subsection 284-75(6) of Schedule 1 to the Taxation Administration Act 1953 effective?
  6. Are there any other suggestions to strengthen the operation of the Tax Agent Services Act 2009 or the Tax Agent Services Regulations 2009?

The review will report to Government by September 30.

 

On the blog

An Assessment of the Code of Professional Conduct under the Tax Agents Services Act 2009 – Six Years On, by Ken Devos and Paul Kenny

 

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