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Greater assurance for taxpayers under new regulatory framework for tax services

Monday, March 1, 2010

Greater assurance for taxpayers under new regulatory framework for tax services

A new framework for regulating tax practitioners that takes effect from today, 1 March will give taxpayers greater certainty in their dealings with tax agents and BAS agents and with the ATO.

Dale Boucher, the Chair of the newly formed national Tax Practitioners Board, said the new Tax Agent Services regime will strengthen the vital role of the tax profession and Australia’s strong culture of voluntary compliance with the tax law.

‘For currently registered tax agents, the vast majority of whom serve taxpayers with a high level of competence and integrity, the new framework will not require them to do anything different in the short term.

’Bookkeepers who prepare business activity statements (BAS) other than as employees will be required to register as BAS agents. To help them transition into the new arrangements, those who have been providing BAS services immediately before 1 March will be able to register by notifying the board within six months.

Under the old law, anyone who provided tax advice for a fee must already be registered as a tax agent.

Under the new arrangements, other specialists such as R&D consultants who may provide a limited range of tax agent services will have the opportunity to obtain conditional registration.

Mr Boucher said a new Code of Professional Conduct will require agents to maintain high standards of honesty and integrity, as well as competence in the tax services they deliver.

‘A broader range of practitioners have new obligations, but the Board stands ready to help with the necessary information and services,’ he said.

A change that is being implemented concurrently with the commencement of the Board is that taxpayers who lodge returns through registered tax and BAS agents will in some circumstances receive a safe harbour protection from administrative penalties. This will apply where a failure to meet their tax obligations results from a failure by their agent to take reasonable care. Information about the safe harbour provisions can be obtained from the ATO which administers them.

The new Tax Practitioners Board is an independent statutory authority with responsibility for administering the Tax Agent Services Act 2009. It replaces six State-based Tax Agent Boards.

Mr Boucher said that the Board will work closely with the professional bodies, the ATO and other stakeholders to ensure agents have a consistent experience in dealing with the Board.

Detailed information on the new regulatory framework, including how to register as a tax or BAS agent, is available on the Board’s website, www.tpb.gov.au

  • Dale Boucher - Chair, Tax Practitioners Board dale.boucher [at] tpb.gov.au
  • Geoff Robinson - Secretary, Tax Practitioners Board geoffrey.robinson [at] tpb.gov.au