Issued: 15 February 2023
Last modified: 3 March 2023
View the resources for our webinar, Everything you need to know about CPE. In this webinar learn why continuing professional education (CPE) is critical to your ongoing registration. We also explore CPE hours, the CPE period, relevant activities, keeping records, extenuating circumstances, and recognition of your association’s CPE requirements.
Everything you need to know about CPE webinar recording
Questions and answers
We have compiled some of the questions we received during the webinar.
What were the continuing professional education (CPE) requirements for tax practitioners during 2020 and 2021 due to the impacts of COVID-19?
Our new CPE requirements came into effect on 1 July 2022. Tax practitioners were subject to our previous requirements up until 30 June 2022 and the following concessions were in place to support tax practitioners due to COVID-19 impacts:
The 25% cap for relevant technical or professional reading did not apply between March 2020 to December 2022.
A reasonable amount of educative mental health and wellbeing activities was allowed from March 2020 to 30 June 2022. The new CPE policy now allows up to 10% of your CPE hours to include educational mental health and wellbeing activities.
I’m a registered BAS agent. I do not have my own clients but provide BAS services through my employer. Do I still need to complete CPE?
Yes, all registered individual BAS and tax agents must complete CPE that meets our requirements.
Do semi-retired tax practitioners get any concessions from the CPE requirements?
The general answer is ‘no’ as it is important for tax practitioners who do not work full-time or are semi-retired to still maintain their knowledge and skills to be able to provide competent services to their clients, regardless of the number of hours they work.
In our policy, we’ve spread the CPE hours requirement over a 3-year period to provide some flexibility and cater for various circumstances of tax practitioners.
If you, however, have some extenuating circumstances, you may request some relief from the minimum hours but even under these circumstances you must show that you have attempted to use the flexibility of the CPE period to complete the minimum hours.
What are conditional tax practitioners and what are their required CPE hours?
A condition on your registration limits the scope of tax agent, BAS or tax (financial) advice services you can provide or limits your services to a particular area of taxation law. For a list of the types of conditions that we have imposed refer to Conditions of registration.
The number of CPE hours that conditional tax practitioners are required to do depends on the type of condition – see the table on our CPE page.
I have an individual and a company registration. Can I use the CPE I complete for both registrations?
Only individual tax practitioners are subject to our CPE requirements.
What percentages or hours apply to each type of CPE activity?
A limit on the amount of CPE you can complete only applies to professional or technical reading and educational health and wellbeing activities.
Over a standard 3-year CPE period, you cannot count more than:
25% of the CPE hours in relevant technical or professional reading
10% of the CPE hours in educative mental health and wellbeing activities.
What happens if a tax practitioner experienced financial hardship and have not met your CPE requirements?
A tax practitioner experiencing financial difficulties or other extenuating circumstances can request appropriate relief from completing CPE that meets our requirements. For further information refer to the Extenuating circumstances section in our explanatory paper.
Can listening to podcasts be counted as CPE?
Educational activities, such as listening to relevant podcasts, provided they are delivered by an appropriate organisation, are CPE activities that meet our requirements.
If I volunteer to provide tax agent or BAS services such as for non-profit organisations or the Tax Help program, can I count these hours towards my CPE?
No, providing voluntary tax agent or BAS services do not count towards your CPE but they may count towards your relevant experience where appropriate.
Do training sessions on how to bring in new clients to your practice count towards CPE?
No, these wouldn’t count as they are not relevant to the services you provide or enable you to provide better services to your clients.
I spend a few hours each week reading daily emails from relevant industry publications. Can I claim this as CPE?
You can count the time spent in reading any articles relevant to the types of services you provide or enable you to provide better services to your clients. This activity will come under relevant technical or professional reading category and a 25% cap applies to this activity.
Can the 25% of the professional reading be completed in the first year?
Yes, you may do so as our policy does not mandate the types of activities to be completed each year.
Do webinars come under the 25% technical or professional reading?
No, webinars (including the TPB webinars) are not classed as ‘technical or professional reading’ and so the cap does not apply.
Can I use the time spent on studying to become an accounting software adviser, (such as Xero), or learning about the regular software updates towards CPE?
You may count this activity towards your CPE as long as your understanding and use of the software assists in the provision of tax agent or BAS services to your clients. If you are studying to become an accounting software adviser and this study is not related to your provision of tax agent services to clients (for example you use a different type of software when providing services to your clients), then this study would not be counted as CPE for TPB’s purposes.
Can I use my Australian financial services CPD for TPB purposes?
You can count any activity you undertake for your AFS CPD towards TPB purposes, provided the activities are relevant to the services you provide or help you provide effective services to your clients.
I am a licensed real estate agent as well as a BAS agent. Can the CPE hours on mental health I completed for my real estate license count towards my BAS agent registration?
Yes, you may count this for your BAS agent registration too, provided that these activities make up no more than 10% of CPE over your CPE period These activities should be educational and be relevant to the tax agent or BAS services you provide.
Can we claim some exercise or seeing a counsellor to manage our own stress towards health and wellbeing activities?
No, you can only count any educative activities, such as attending a stress management course or a mental health seminar or webinar, towards health and wellbeing activities.
I provide tax agent services to a certain category of clients where there are limited tax law changes and so have limited CPE opportunities. Can I seek CPE that will enhance my ability to provide professional services to those clients that may not be tax related? Or should I seek CPE that is tax related that does not relate to those services?
You can include topics in your CPE that will help you manage your practice efficiently and provide a professional service to your clients. For example, these topics can include practice management, ethics and digital literacy. Our new CPE policy also allows you to undertake up to 10% of your CPE hours in educational mental health and well-being activities.
The TPB also recognises cyber security awareness training as being relevant to protecting your practice from cyber-attacks. This may also be counted towards your CPE requirements.
Apart from these exceptions, you cannot count CPE on topics that are not relevant to the tax agent services you provide.
If you still find it difficult to make up the required hours, you may consider applying to us for a condition to be placed on your registration (if one is not already imposed). A condition on your registration, if you are eligible, may reduce the amount of CPE you will need to complete, depending on the type of condition. Importantly, having a condition on your registration also limits the scope of services a tax practitioner can legally provide.
Can I use the time spent doing a higher qualification, such as a CPA course, towards my CPE?
Yes any relevant additional or higher qualification you undertake can count towards your CPE but you can only count those units or subjects that are relevant to the services you provide or help you provide effective and efficient services to your clients.
If I renewed my registration immediately before 1 July 2022, when do the new CPE requirements apply to me?
The new CPE requirements will apply to you from the date your renewed registration takes effect next. In this instance, it is most likely that the new requirements will apply to you only in 2025.
For further information refer to the scenarios provided in our frequently asked questions.
I was granted registration in December 2021 and my registration is due for renewal in February 2025. Do the new CPE requirements start from the renewal date (February 2025) or are they effective now?
As you became registered before 1 July 2022 (the start date of our new CPE requirements), the new requirements will not apply to you until February 2025. Until this time you will need to complete CPE based on our previous requirements.
How do we provide evidence for activities such as watching webinar recordings, listening to podcasts or undertaking research or technical reading on tax laws?
For activities where you are not able to obtain formal evidence of attendance, it is important that you capture sufficient details about the activity in your CPE log. The details should include information about the topics or content covered in these activities to help you show the relevance of the topic to the services you provide. Details should also include the time taken to complete the activities. The TPB has developed and made available a template CPE log to assist tax practitioners to meet record keeping requirements.
What happens if someone has not kept a CPE log?
Failing to maintain a CPE log or provide evidence of completing relevant CPE that meets our requirements may lead to a finding that a tax practitioner has breached the Code of Professional Conduct and lead to an administrative sanction imposed by the Board. For example, this may include an order requiring the registered tax practitioner to complete courses of education or training specified by the TPB. The tax practitioner may also not meet an ongoing registration requirement, which can lead to termination of registration.
If we need to keep CPE records for 5 years, do we need to keep each 3-year CPE period records for 5 years or just 5 years’ worth of records?
CPE records should be kept for a period of 5 years from the end of the registered tax practitioner’s CPE period. This means, you need to keep each 3-year CPE period records for 5 years. For example, if your CPE period was from 1 July 2022 to 30 June 2025, you will need to keep CPE records for this period until 30 June 2030.