Issued: 17 August 2023
Last modified: 8 September 2023
About the webinar
This is an open session where our senior leadership answer your questions in relation to your obligations as a registered tax practitioner. The topics include registration, compliance, policy, legislative reform and IT.
Questions and answers
We have compiled some of the questions we received during the webinar.
Continuing professional education (CPE)
What is the CPE period?
Your period for CPE will begin on the date you are registered and ends 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.
You cannot alter your CPE period once elected unless you have changed your membership to another recognised professional association. In this situation, you can make a new election at the end of your existing CPE period to align it to your new association’s period.
For further information refer to the scenarios provided in our FAQs – new CPE requirements from 1 July 2022.
Does viewing recorded TPB webinars count towards CPE hours?
Yes, other educational activities, such as listening to relevant podcasts and watching webinars, are also CPE activities that meet our requirements, as long as they are delivered by an appropriate organisation and relate to the services you provide as a tax or BAS agent.
Do we have to meet the minimum number of CPE hours each year or can this be cumulative over the 3-year period of registration?
In our policy you must complete a minimum of 20 hours of CPE each year. 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 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.
For more information on extenuating circumstances see our examples in our explanatory paper.
Do I need to advise the TPB if I am aligning my CPE with my professional body and not my anniversary date with the TPB?
You do not need to advise us if you want to elect a CPE period which aligns with your recognised professional association. You should however keep your own record of your elected CPE period - for example, you may want to make a note of your elected CPE period in your CPE log.
How many years do we have to keep CPE records?
CPE records should be kept for a period of 5 years from the end of your CPE period. This means, you need to keep each 3-year CPE period’s 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.
Can we include technical reading towards CPE hours?
Yes, however a limit on the amount of CPE you can complete does apply to professional or technical reading.
Over a standard 3-year CPE period, you cannot count more than 25% of the CPE hours as relevant technical or professional reading. Relevant technical or professional reading may include visual and audio resources.
Where do I find my registration expiry date?
What is the registration period?
The registration period set out in the Tax Agent Services Act 2009 is at least 3 years.
Is there a minimum number of tax returns and business activity statements that we need to lodge to maintain registration?
No, there is no minimum requirements for lodgement to remain registered.
I am registered as an individual and a company tax agent and I have 2 different renewal dates, will the TPB align my registration dates so I can renew them at the same time?
Unfortunately, we cannot align your registration periods. The registration period is set out in the Tax Agent Services Act 2009 and must be at least 3 years.
Why does the TPB charge a fee to both the individual director of a tax agent company, and the company itself?
Each company or partnership needs to have a sufficient number of registered individuals who carry out supervisory arrangements on behalf of the business. So 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.
Proof of identity
Do I need to do POI for clients that I have dealt with for 30 or 40 years?
You are required to exercise your professional judgement when making an assessment about whether a client or individual representative is a well-established client and if it is necessary to undertake proof of identity (POI) checks.
If you decide it is not appropriate or necessary to undertake the POI checks, we still need you to retain a record of the assessment you have made. Take a look at our Practice note for more details.
If I buy another tax practice or a client list, do I have to undertake a proof of identity check for all of the new clients?
When you buy another tax practice or acquire clients from another practice, we don’t expect you to perform POI checks for each client you are acquiring straight away.
The seller tax practitioner should be passing on the POI file notes or checklists for each client being transferred to your practice, along with other relevant client records. Of course, the seller tax practitioner must be mindful of their Code of Professional Conduct (Code) obligations to maintain confidentiality of client information. They must have obtained all the relevant clients’ permission before passing on their records to you.
During your ongoing engagement with the clients you have acquired, you should undertake POI checks as appropriate throughout your engagement with them.
How should we save the POI documentation a client provides?
We do not recommend that you keep copies or originals of any identification documents of clients or their representatives.
In fact, we strongly discourage this practise because we recognise these documents may be at risk of being stolen through cyber-attacks or even physical break-ins at your business premises. However, we do require you to maintain a record, such as a checklist, for POI checks done.
Why are people allowed to practice after offending? Aren’t you worried they will go ahead and do the same thing again?
We apply a graduated range of administrative sanctions. Where the behaviour is particularly egregious, and we make the decision to terminate a tax practitioner’s registration, we may also determine a period (of no more than 5 years) during which the tax practitioner may not apply for registration. The primary purpose of imposing a non-application period is to protect the public and the integrity of the tax profession.
If they wish to practice again after a termination and non-application period they will need to reapply and prove that they meet all our registration requirements, including being a fit and proper person.
If a person surrenders their TPB registration when an investigation is threatened, will the investigation stop, or be carried through to solution?
If we are currently in an investigation and a surrender request is received, we will not accept the surrender if it would be inappropriate to do so. If we don’t accept the surrender, then we will carry the investigation through to its resolution.
If we are not in an investigation, we have 30 days to decide whether to accept the surrender request or to commence an investigation.
Is a tax practitioner required to disclose where an employee is no longer fit and proper?
Currently a tax practitioner is not required to disclose where an employee may not be considered a fit and proper person. However, it should be noted the Code requires all registered tax practitioners to ensure the services provided on their behalf are provided competently. An employee providing tax or BAS agent services, while not a fit and proper person, may raise questions about whether the services being provided are being provided competently.
It's also important to note that a registered tax or BAS agent must not employ or use the services of anyone who is not a registered tax practitioner, and had their registration terminated within one year before you first employed or used their services. The only exceptions to this are where entities have surrendered their registration or became an undischarged bankrupt.
Is it safe for clients to send their TFN and date of birth via email?
We would not recommend that you receive or send client’s sensitive personal information by email as this is not considered to be a secure method of transmission. You should advise your clients to send this information to you through secure ways, such as a secure website, secure online mailbox or secure messaging as discussed in our proof of identity guidelines. We’ll share a link to this information after the webinar.
How safe is it to update our details through My Profile when we’re outside of our offices or home?
We use Multi Factor Authentication (MFA) to provide an extra layer of security when you access your account with us via My Profile. MFA is one of the most effective ways to protect your accounts from cybercriminals. However, you should be aware that your internet connection is a way for you to interact with the outside world, but it also provides a channel into your computer. If your internet connection isn't secure someone may use it to steal your personal or financial information for malicious purposes.
Public Wi-Fi 'hotspots' are convenient, but they can be risky so avoid sending or receiving valuable or sensitive information when connected to public Wi-Fi networks.
Can diligence around cyber security affect fitness and propriety if there is a breach of data?
A failure to take appropriate steps to ensure client confidentiality may indicate that a tax practitioner failed to act with competence and depending upon the gravity of the breach, may result in a finding that the practitioner is no longer fit and proper.
Where a breach of the Code has occurred (for example Code item 6 – confidentiality of client information) due to a cyber incident, we would consider the circumstances surrounding the incident, including the IT controls in place to determine what administrative sanctions, if any, should be imposed. Ultimately, we consider any breaches on a case-by-case basis.