Issued: 13 November 2023
Last modified: 29 November 2023
View the resources for our webinar, Know your obligations.
It’s important for new tax practitioners to understand their ongoing registration obligations. In this webinar we’ll provide everything you need to know to meet and maintain the high standards of the tax profession.
Should we report our continuing professional education to the TPB?
You need to provide your continuing professional education (CPE) log or details of activities completed when we request you to do so. This may happen anytime during your registration period, including at the time you renew your registration.
How many hours of self-reading allowed under the CPE policy?
We have a 25% reading cap on technical or professional reading.
Can we claim CPE for all research and reading during the COVID time that was in relation to the job seeker and other government grants?
Our CPE policy requires that no more than 25% of CPE should be undertaken through relevant technical or professional reading. However, due to the COVID situation we had a temporary concession in place that removed this 25% cap up until 1 January 2023. If you claim the research and reading you must also ensure that it was relevant to the tax agent or BAS services you provided.
To record a CPE activity, do we need a certificate?
You don't need a certificate, but there are certain details you need to record. For example, keep a record of the date, the CPE provider, details of the activity including the format, the outcome or learning, hours completed and any evidence of attendance.
How many hours of CPE can I claim for my professional association for attending a TPB webinar?
Our webinars generally run for one hour, so you can claim one hour of CPE for the purposes of the TPB. To claim CPE for meeting your recognised professional association’s requirements, it is best to ask for their advise as they may have a different system in place.
Being a member of a professional association, I complete a CPE log for the activities I complete with them. Do I need to complete a separate log for the TPB?
If you maintain a CPE log for your recognised professional association, that should generally meet our requirements too. You do not have to maintain a separate record for TPB purposes.
If the tax agent is a company with 3 directors with one only tax agent. Does it mean that all three should be doing the CPE?
All registered individual tax and BAS agents must complete CPE to maintain their registration with us.
I am also a financial planner, and complete 40 hours of CPE per year via Kaplan, would this satisfy the TPB’s CPE requirement?
You can use this as long as it is relevant to the tax agent or BAS services you provide.
I did not complete my 20 hours per year as a BAS agent last year, as I was going through medical treatment. I am catching up this year, do I need to advise the TPB?
In this situation where you are unable to complete the minimum hours of CPE due to extenuation circumstances, you should exercise your professional judgment and keep appropriate records in relation to your situation. We will consider appropriate relief from the minimum amount of CPE hours, provided you can demonstrate that you have attempted to use the flexibility of your CPE period to manage any extenuating circumstances to comply with our CPE requirements.
Are first aid courses and CPR training included as relevant CPE?
No, these activities are not considered relevant as they do not relate to your services as a tax practitioner and are not considered mental health and wellbeing activities.
If I have completed a seminar just before I registered with the TPB, can I count that towards my CPE hours?
No, you can only claim relevant CPE activities from the time you are registered with us. Anything you complete before registration cannot be counted.
Is the CPE year from 1 January- 31 December or from the date you were registered as a tax practitioner?
Your CPE period will begin on the date you are registered and end on the date your registration expires (generally 3 years). However, if you are a member of a recognised professional association, you can elect to align your CPE period with the CPE period of your professional association. This means that you can elect to have your CPE period based on a calendar year, financial year or the anniversary of your association membership start date. Find out more about your CPE period.
Does a tax agent, who is also maintaining their BAS agent registration, have to do a total of 210 hrs of CPE or can we complete the 120 for tax agents and count that towards both registrations?
You can count the training you complete for your tax agent registration towards you BAS registration, if it is relevant to the services you are providing as a BAS agent.
Another thing to keep in mind, is that you don’t need to maintain both a tax and BAS agent registration. If you are a tax agent, you can complete BAS agent services under your registration.
Do tax practitioners need to attend CPE offered by a professional association or can we gain the hours from other relevant sources?
You can complete activities offered by other organisations. Just ensure the CPE activities are relevant to the tax agent or BAS services you provide and are being provided by persons or organisations with suitable qualifications and/or practical experience in the subject area.
Is there a cap on how many CPE hours we can complete for mental health and wellbeing or cyber security courses?
Your CPE activities can include up to 10% of educative health and wellbeing activities over your CPE period. These activities could include attending webinars about how to manage stress and self-care.
We recognise cyber security awareness training that you undertake as relevant CPE. We suggest you use your professional judgement on the amount of hours that would be appropriate to remain relevant to your registration as a tax or BAS agent.
Personal tax obligations
Can a tax agent lodge the tax returns for their own company, trust, super fund or is this a breach of the requirement to manage conflicts of interest?
There is no issue with a tax agent lodging tax returns for their own personal tax affairs, including the tax affairs of their company, trust or self-managed super fund (SMSF), provided that your personal interests (including the interests of your company, trust or SMSF) do not conflict with your duty to act lawfully in the best interests of your clients. Where an actual or perceived conflict of interest exists, you should disclose the conflict to your clients and take steps to manage that conflict of interest. Refer to our Information sheet for further information.
Can a tax practitioner have a tax debt if they have a payment plan in place with the Australian Taxation Office?
Yes, this is acceptable if you declare this to us in your registration renewal and meet the arrangements that are outlined by the ATO in the payment plan.
Is there a template for a letter of engagement which we can use?
We don't provide a template for engagement letters. If you are a member of a recognised professional association, they often have templates they share with their members.
Do we need an engagement letter if our employment changes and we become a contractor?
If you are providing tax agent or BAS services as a contractor working for a tax or BAS agent, we recommend an engagement letter be used between the client and the tax practitioner providing the service. This engagement letter should include terms obtaining consent from the client for use of third-party contractors to provide the services, including any disclosures of client information to those contractors to provide services on behalf of the tax practitioner. Take a look at our Practice note to learn more about outsourcing services.
When employing a trainee tax or BAS agent do they need to be registered with the TPB?
An employee or contractor of a registered tax or BAS agent who does not provide tax agent services in their own right, does not need to be registered. However, if they are working for a registered company or partnership tax agent, the company or partnership might need them (as an individual) to be registered so that it has a sufficient number of registered individual tax practitioners. Registered tax or BAS agents must also ensure that tax agent services provided on their behalf are provided competently, which means they must have adequate supervision and control over a trainee tax or BAS agent who isn’t registered with the TPB.
Does the number of BAS you lodge during your registration count towards the upkeep of your registration?
No, there is not a minimum requirement of lodgements to remain registered, but you must meet the relevant experience requirement for your registration pathway when you come to renew your registration with us.
If a person purely provides bookkeeping services and does not lodge BAS returns is that contravention of the law if they are not a BAS agent?
If the bookkeeper is not providing BAS agent services for a fee or other reward, they do not need to register with us. BAS services relate to:
- working out or advising about liabilities, obligations or entitlements of clients under a BAS provision, or
- representing a client in their dealings with the Commissioner of Taxation in relation to a BAS provision where it is reasonable to expect a client to rely on the service to satisfy liabilities or obligations, or to claim entitlements, under a BAS provision.
Find out more about BAS services.
If we have a company with 2 directors, who are also the only tax practitioners of the company, do they both need to have individual and company registrations?
You can register as one company, but if you register as a company or partnership, you also need to have a sufficient number of registered individuals who carry out supervisory arrangements on behalf of the business. This means your entity must have an adequate number of registered individual tax practitioners to:
- provide tax agent services to a competent standard, and
- carry out supervisory arrangements on behalf of the entity.
There is no set formula for the number of individual registrations you will require. You will need to work this out based on a number of factors. Find out more about what to consider.
Can you still provide tax work if you are not a registered practitioner?
Anyone providing tax agent or BAS services for a fee or other reward must be registered as a tax practitioner before providing those services. If you provide tax agent or BAS services while unregistered, you may be liable for civil penalties. Find out more information on unregistered preparers.
I am a registered tax agent, and my expected turnover is over $50,000. If I am a CPA, is it compulsory for me to apply for a public practice licence even though I am just an individual tax agent?
We do not have any specific requirements relating to Public Practice Certificates. However, as a registered tax practitioner, you are required under the Code of Professional Conduct to ensure that tax agent or BAS services you provide are provided competently, and that you maintain knowledge and skills relevant to the tax agent services you provide.
Please refer to CPA Australia's requirements in relation to whether you are required to hold a Public Practice Certificate.
Currently my BAS agent registration requires me to be a voting member of a recognised professional association. When I renew do I have the option to not be a voting member?
If you are a registered BAS agent and a voting member of a recognised professional association, you must consider whether you will continue to meet the qualification and experience requirements for maintaining registration as a BAS agent, if you cease to be a voting member of that association. See our guidance on the qualification and experience requirements for BAS agents, including those who are not voting members of a recognised professional association for more information.
Do we need to have an individual tax agent registration if we are a registered as a company tax agent?
If you register as a company or partnership, you also need to have a sufficient number of registered individuals who carry out supervisory arrangements on behalf of your business. For example, if you operate your business through a company, the company will need to be registered and you will either need to be registered as an individual as well, or the company will need to have other registered individuals who can carry out supervisory arrangements on its behalf.
I am a member of a professional body and I work as a management accountant for a non-profit organisation. Do I need to register with the TPB as I lodge BAS and IAS?
The Tax Agent Services Act 2009 states that you must be registered with the TPB to provide BAS services for a fee or other reward. However, the meaning of 'fee or other reward' excludes employees (who are not registered with the TPB) who provide tax agent services or BAS services on behalf of (or to) their employer for a salary, wage or other benefit. You should consider whether your engagement with the not-for-profit organisation meets the criteria for this exclusion. For further information, please refer to our Information sheet.
Outsourcing and offshoring
Are there any special provisions we need to consider if we want to hire remote staff overseas?
If you are considering hiring remote staff overseas to provide tax agent or BAS services on your behalf, you should consider our 'outsourcing and offshoring' guidance. Offshoring occurs where an entity enters into an arrangement to transfer a process, function, service or activity outside Australia. Under the Code, you must ensure that the arrangement complies with Code item 6, which requires tax practitioners do not disclose any client information to a third party without the client's permission, unless there is a legal duty to do so. You must also consider Code item 7, which requires tax practitioners to ensure that services are provided competently, which includes adequate supervision of those providing services on their behalf. Refer to our Practice note for more.
If we outsource the tax return preparation work to another registered tax agent, can we assume that the work has been provided competently by that registered tax agent?
Ultimately, a registered tax practitioner is responsible for the services they provide. However, the scope of responsibility can vary based on the type of outsourcing arrangement. For example, if you (as a registered tax practitioner) outsource the preparation and lodgement of a return to a third party (who is also a registered tax practitioner), you are not required to provide supervision or control over the third party’s work. However, if you will still be lodging the return, you are required to ensure this tax agent service (the lodging of the return) is provided competently. This includes taking reasonable care to ensure tax laws have been applied correctly, and to ascertain the client’s state of affairs, which may require you to review the return prepared by the third party. You are also required to consider if the outsourcing arrangement is appropriate for the circumstances, both before entering and during the course of the arrangement. For further information, refer to our Practice note.
Professional indemnity insurance
Do I have to include cyber security insurance in my professional indemnity insurance?
This is not a legal requirement under the Code of Professional Conduct, but we recommend you consider additional features to your professional indemnity (PI) insurance policy, including fraud and protection against cyber threats, including losses that you may suffer from a cyber-attack. Learn more about our PI insurance requirements.
Some of the compliance cases the TPB investigates seem to have elements of fraud and other criminal activities. Why aren't criminal proceedings taken against these agents?
We only have the power to formally investigate certain matters under Tax Agent Services Act 2009 (TASA). This includes:
- applications for registration
- breaches of the Code of Professional Conduct
- any false or misleading statements made to the Commissioner of Taxation
- advertising or supplying tax agent services when not registered
- any other conduct that may breach the TASA.
If we find a tax practitioner may have committed a criminal offence, we will refer this to the relevant law enforcement agency.
Will the TPB be given the power to terminate a tax practitioner’s registration, with a lifetime ban from reapplying?
The government has announced a range of reforms to address tax adviser misconduct and improve regulatory frameworks with three priority areas to:
- strengthen tax system integrity
- increase powers, and
- ensure regulatory arrangements are fit for purpose.
New legislation is expected to be introduced after broader consultation on the reforms. In the longer term, whole of Government reforms to improve regulatory frameworks will be coordinated by Treasury and delivered progressively. These reforms address improvements identified in the independent review of the TPB conducted by Mr Keith James and build on TASA reforms currently before Parliament.