Acting lawfully in the best interests of clients for tax and BAS agents
You must act lawfully in the best interests of your clients. This is one of your obligations (item 4) under the Code of Professional Conduct (Code).
When representing your clients, you must advance and protect your clients’ interests to the best of your ability, in all circumstances to the extent that your actions are consistent with the law. Acting in the best interests of clients is not a justification for you to contravene or disregard the relevant laws.
The duty you owe to your client will be determined by the circumstances of the engagement, for example:
- by a letter of engagement, report, advice or other communication between the registered tax practitioner and the client
- the duties imposed by the Tax Agent Services Act 2009
- any relevant course of conduct between you and your client.
When acting for, or on behalf of, a client, you must only act where you are authorised to do so, and only if your actions are in accordance with or are sanctioned by the law.
Example involving Code item 4 – claiming work-related deductions
Michael works in the hospitality industry. He engages Rahul, a registered tax agent, to prepare and lodge his income tax return. He instructs Rahul to claim a deduction for work clothing for the black trousers he is required to wear. Although Michael might believe it is in his best interest to reduce his taxable income, Rahul is aware that Michael cannot claim the cost of his work clothing as an allowable deduction under the taxation law because the trousers are not protective or specific to his occupation. Rahul advises Michael accordingly and must not act in accordance with Michael’s instruction.
Consequences for failing to comply with this Code item
If you fail to act lawfully in the best interests of your client, the TPB may find that you have breached the Code and may impose sanctions for that breach.
- Explanatory paper TPB(EP) 01/2010 Code of Professional Conduct
- Webinar recording – Acting lawfully in your client’s best interests
Last modified: 17 July 2018