Issued: 25 October 2023
Last modified: 8 December 2023
In this webinar we’ll provide you with an overview of our continuing professional education (CPE) policy, including your ongoing registration obligations.
Questions and answers
We have compiled some of the questions we received during our webinar.
Continuing professional education activities
Can cloud based accounting software training be claimed as continuing professional education?
Yes, you can count this towards your continuing professional education (CPE), provided the software training relates to the tax agent or BAS services you provide, or knowledge gained from the software training helps you provide effective services to your clients. You should exercise your professional judgement in making this decision.
I am a university lecturer in tax and business law, can I count teaching hours as relevant CPE?
No, as the activity is not relevant to the tax agent or BAS services you provide. However, CPE activities such as research or attending webinars to prepare material for lectures you deliver may count towards your CPE, providing the activities are relevant to the services you provide. For example, business law research may not be relevant whereas tax law could be.
Does watching the recorded webinars on the TPB’s YouTube page count towards CPE hours?
Can internal training be included in the CPE?
In-house training can count as relevant CPE if it is structured, relates to the services a tax practitioner provides and is provided by a person or organisation with appropriate qualifications and experience.
Can the hours I complete for my diploma in accounting be included towards CPE?
If you are already registered with us and are not using the diploma in accounting to gain your initial registration with us, then it may be considered CPE providing it is relevant to the tax practitioner services you provide
Does preparing and lodging BAS returns count towards CPE hours?
The provision of a tax agent or BAS service will not, of itself, constitute a CPE activity.
If you are supervising and training staff on how to complete a BAS return, and then reviewing the work, is this relevant CPE?
No, as these activities would not maintain or improve your knowledge and skill in providing BAS services.
If I prepare a course for others, can I claim preparation hours towards my CPE, and if so, is there a limit?
Activities such as research in preparation for a course can be considered relevant CPE.
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
If we attend the webinar and watch the recording on the YouTube channel, do both sessions count towards CPE?
No, you are unable to claim the same activity more than once.
If we attend the same topic but through different providers, do both activities count towards CPE?
Yes, both activities would count towards your CPE as long as they are relevant to the tax agent or BAS services you provide. We don’t limit the number of activities you can undertake on the same topic.
The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) are changing the onboarding process for new clients. Does researching and learning this process count as CPE?
Yes, as it would be considered relevant to the tax practitioner services you provide.
When you say the CPE must be relevant to the services we provide, can I include any CPE on bookkeeping or only on GST components?
You should use your professional judgement when selecting relevant CPE activities to undertake. Any educational activity must maintain, develop or promote your knowledge and/or skills to be considered relevant.
I am a registered BAS agent and work as an employee in an accounting office as a bookkeeper – can I use hours worked as CPE?
Could I use mentoring sessions where I am mentored by a qualified accountant as a CPE activity?
This would be dependent on how the mentoring sessions were conducted. To be considered relevant for CPE purposes, the sessions would need to be structured and cover topics relevant to the tax practitioner services you provide, while also maintaining or improving your knowledge in these areas.
Does Microsoft Excel training count towards CPE?
The use of Excel is indirectly relevant to the services you provide, however training covering how to use these programs would be considered relevant CPE because effective and accurate use of the software improves on the skills you need to competently provide services to clients.
Would a meditation course be covered as a mental health and wellbeing activity?
A meditation course in its entirety would unlikely meet CPE requirements for a health and wellbeing activity. Suitable educative activities under this category would be things such as courses or webinars about managing stress, self-care and supporting the mental health and wellbeing of your staff. Keep in mind there is a 10% cap on the number of hours you can undertake for a health and wellbeing activity.
Are mental health CPE activities compulsory to maintain our registration?
No, mental health and wellbeing activities are not compulsory to maintain any tax practitioner registration.
I am doing BAS agent services part-time. How do I pro rata CPE hours?
If you work part-time, you still need to maintain your knowledge and skills to be able to provide competent services to your clients. Therefore, you are still required to complete a minimum of 90 hours of CPE over a 3-year period.
Is there a list of authorised CPE providers?
We do not accredit or approve CPE providers. CPE activities should be provided by persons or organisations with suitable qualifications and/or practical experience in the relevant subject area. For the types of CPE activities we consider appropriate, refer to CPE activities.
I have completed lots of CPE hours in relation to superannuation topics, would that be acceptable for the annual CPE requirement?
We don’t have limits or seek to prescribe certain topics. You should exercise your professional judgement to assess if the amount of CPE undertaken on any given topic is appropriate. You just need to complete the minimum amount of CPE hours per year required by your registration while being mindful of the 25% cap on technical and professional reading and the 10% cap on mental health and wellbeing activities.
Technical or professional reading activity
What is the justification for the technical reading cap? I find technical reading is by far the best way for me to keep up to date.
Technical reading, while providing relevant information, does not have set knowledge or learning objectives. Structured CPE has a clear set of objectives, where the participant will seek or receive a specific learning objective(s) and will provide a structured means to achieve that learning objective(s).
Can you please provide detail on when the technical reading changed up and down over covid?
We removed the 25% cap for relevant technical or professional reading in March 2020. Due to the COVID situation improving in most parts of Australia we reinstated the cap from 1 January 2023.
Is research treated differently to technical reading or is it considered the same thing?
Research is treated the same as technical or professional reading under our requirements and therefore falls within the 25% cap.
Could you please clarify if the 25% cap on technical and professional reading applies to researching case law, case studies, court rulings and tax rulings when researching to prepare a client case to submit to the Commissioner of Taxation.
In this scenario the 25% cap would not apply, as any research undertaken while preparing a client case (providing a tax agent or BAS service) is not considered relevant CPE.
Are passive listening products such as podcasts counted as reading? Or are they exempt from the 25% cap?
Passive listening products such as podcasts or self-paced training would be counted under the 25% technical reading cap.
How do we calculate time for ATO or professional body technical reading?
You must ensure the hours you undertake for technical reading do not exceed the 25% cap rule. For example, for a standard tax agent registration you are required to undertake 120 hours of CPE in 3 years. 25% of 120 is 30 so you would be unable to claim any more than 30 hours of CPE on ATO technical readings.
Structured and unstructured CPE
What is the difference between ‘structured’ and ‘unstructured’ sessions?
Structured CPE includes formal activities, such as conferences, tertiary courses, webinars and structured training. These activities generally have a clear set of learning objectives. Unstructured CPE activities include relevant technical or professional reading, self-paced audio, visual and computer aided instruction, or group discussions on technical topics.
Would attending a webinar where you can submit questions and interact be considered different to just listening to a podcast?
Yes, attending a webinar would be different to listening to a podcast.
Structured CPE has a clear set of objectives, where the participant will seek or receive a specific learning objective and the CPE activity will provide a structured means to achieve that learning objective.
Unstructured CPE has no set knowledge/learning objective or structure. Therefore, webinars are considered structured CPE, and a podcast would be considered unstructured and be part of the 25% technical or professional reading cap.
Evidence of CPE
How does the TPB check that CPE requirements are being met?
We require confirmation that CPE requirements are being met when a tax practitioner renews their registration. We can also request evidence or confirmation of CPE completed at any time during the period of your registration.
How do we keep a record of professional reading?
Detailed records should be kept of any professional or technical reading activity you undertake. Things that should be included are the date you completed the reading, who published the article, what you learned, how long it took you to read the content, along with any other evidence you can provide.
You may keep a record of the technical or professional reading you have done using the CPE log we have developed. Your recognised professional association may also provide a template you may wish to use to record your CPE activities.
If you keep a copy of an email regarding webinar attendance, do you need to put this in your CPE log?
We recommend keeping a copy of emails confirming webinar attendance as this provides us with evidence that clearly demonstrates you have completed the activity.
Do you have to list each article you have read in your CPE log, or can you bulk add a total number of hours per year?
We require you to provide sufficient details as evidence of completion. In this scenario you would be required to list each article, the topics covered, the date they were read, along with how many hours it took to complete the reading.
What records do we keep of the recorded webinar attendance?
When attending one of our webinars, we will provide you with a certificate of attendance and you should keep this for your records. Otherwise, record details such as, the provider, date the webinar was held and learning outcomes.
Do we count our CPE activities across the calendar year or financial year?
Your CPE year starts on the date of your registration. However, you may choose to follow a calendar year or financial year if you are a member of a recognised professional association, and you wish to align with your professional association requirements. Refer to our frequently asked questions which explain when your CPE period will start.
My current BAS registration is due to be renewed in May 2024. Does that mean the new CPE policy won’t kick in until my renewal date in May 2024?
Tax practitioners are generally subject to the new registration requirements from the date of registration renewal. Until your registration renewal date, you will need to continue to comply with the previous CPE requirements. For additional practical guidance and scenarios, refer to our FAQs.
If a tax agent changes their registration to a company, do they have to complete CPE hours according to the company registration date?
Only individual tax and BAS agents need to complete CPE. Therefore, your CPE period will still align to your individual registration not your company registration.
Is the CPE period annual or 3 yearly?
Generally, the CPE period is 3 yearly. You must complete a minimum of 20 hours of CPE each year. If your registration period is other than 3 years, you should complete CPE on a pro-rata basis.
Do the various CPE caps apply each year, or for the 3-year period as a whole?
The 25% cap on technical or professional reading and the 10% cap on educative health and wellbeing activities applies to the CPE period as a whole.
Can you please explain how to align your CPE to the financial year? Do you have to officially notify of your election?
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 on your CPE log.
What is the CPE requirement for a registration with a condition of superannuation?
The new CPE hours came into effect halfway through my registration, how can I do the minimum 20 hours required per year?
If the new CPE hours came into effect during your registration period, you will not be required to adhere to the new requirements until after you renew your registration.
Is it acceptable to have completed the bulk of your CPE in a short period of time rather than have it spread over the year as long as you have completed the minimum requirement?
Yes, it is acceptable to complete the bulk of your CPE in a short period of time as long as you complete the yearly minimum requirement for each year of your registration period.
Does the TPB provide enough webinars to cover and complete the CPE requirement over 3 years?
No, we do not provide enough webinars to cover the CPE requirement for a 3-year period. You will need to complete other educational activities that are relevant to the services you provide.
Can you claim less than one hour of CPE, for example a 45-minute webinar?
Yes, you can claim less than one hour of CPE. You would just need to accurately record the time in your CPE log.
What if a tax agent has achieved 120 hrs over three years but falls short in one year, for example completes15 hrs instead of 20 hrs. What impact does it have on registration?
If you fail to meet your CPE requirements you may be found to be in breach of the Code of Professional Conduct, which may result in termination of your registration. We would recommend getting in touch with us to discuss your circumstances as soon as possible.
Is there a minimum number of hours of ethics training required to meet CPE?
No, we do not have a requirement to complete ethics training so there is no set minimum.
Are there any special considerations if you can’t complete the minimum 20 hours of CPE in one year but complete the total number of hours over the 3-year period?
There are some circumstances in which you can apply to us for relief from the minimum level of CPE. In your request you should explain the attempts you have made to use the flexibility of the CPE period to manage these extenuating circumstances. Find out more by referring to our information on special circumstances that affect your CPE.
Do you provide exemptions from CPE for periods of maternity leave?
We have included family and/or caring commitments (such as maternity or paternity leave) as exceptional circumstances for not being able to complete the minimum CPE hours. In these circumstances, 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.
What would be considered a viable reason for not completing the minimum 20 hours of CPE each year?
If there are special circumstances that impact on your ability to complete the minimum hours of CPE, you should contact us and let us know your circumstances as soon as possible.
Examples of situations where it might not be possible for you to complete the minimum amount of CPE hours include:
• family and/or caring responsibilities (such as maternity or paternity leave)
• financial or other hardship.
If you experienced such circumstances, you should exercise your professional judgement and keep appropriate records in relation to your situation.
Professional association CPE
Is it possible to merge continuing professional development points and CPE?
We do not measure CPE by points but by hours. It is possible some activities may be relevant to your professional association continuing professional development points, and your TPB CPE requirements. For your TPB records, you should make sure your activities are recorded as hours and not points. You should use your professional judgement to determine if topics can be used interchangeably.
If you record CPE hours with a recognised professional association and then you leave that association what happens with the CPE hours records?
You can still claim the hours you have completed as long as they are relevant to the tax or BAS agent services you provide.
If you satisfy your professional association’s CPE requirements, can this be counted towards our TPB CPE?
Your recognised professional association’s CPE requirements will be accepted as meeting our CPE requirements, subject to the CPE activities being relevant to the tax or BAS agent services you provide.