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Tax Practitioner Governance and Standards Forum - 6 July 2021

Tax Practitioner Governance and Standards Forum - 6 July 2021

Thank you for joining Ian Klug (TPB Chair), Elinor Kasapidis (Tax Practitioner Governance and Standards Forum Co-Chair), Michael O’Neill (TPB CEO/Secretary), Janette Luu (TPB Director of Policy and Legislation) and Nadja Harris (TPB Senior Policy and Legislation Adviser) at the inaugural Tax Practitioner Governance and Standards Forum (GSF) held on Tuesday 6 July 2021. We appreciate your valuable input and have provided below a summary of the key messages from the meeting.


Opening remarks and introductions

The Co-Chairs welcomed everyone to the inaugural GSF and members were invited to introduce themselves to the Forum. The following organisations were represented:

  • Association of Accounting Technicians Australia
  • Australian Bookkeepers Association
  • Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand
  • CPA Australia
  • Financial Planning Association of Australia
  • Institute of Certified Bookkeepers
  • Institute of Public Accountants
  • Law Council of Australia
  • SMSF Association
  • The Tax Institute
  • The Australian Taxation Office
  • The Professional Standards Councils
  • Treasury
  • Tax Practitioners Board.


Update from Treasury

Treasury updated members in relation to the Government’s response to the Final Report of the Review of the TPB. In particular, Treasury advised the following:

  • In relation to the seven recommendations requiring legislative amendment for implementation, the process for developing exposure draft legislation is underway. The timing of consultation on this exposure draft legislation is a matter for Government.
  • Work in relation to administrative implementation of six recommendations is currently underway.
  • In addition, there are a range of recommendations that the Government agreed to consult further on. The first tranche of consultations will focus on Recommendations 4.3(b) (regarding the relevant experience requirements for BAS agents) and 6.1 (regarding the TPB’s sanction powers).

GSF members indicated their preference to be included in early consultation in the development stages of exposure draft legislation and proposed implementation of administrative measures.

It was agreed that non-Government GSF members would provide Treasury with a collective view/position in relation to a number of the recommendations from the Final Report.

GSF members also indicated that they have been engaging with Treasury in relation to the Financial Sector Reform (Hayne Royal Commission Response – Better Advice) Bill 2021.


GSF Charter

The Co-Chairs presented the draft GSF Charter for endorsement.

GSF members noted that notwithstanding the statement in paragraph 3 of the Charter that ‘…final operational and strategic decisions are matters for the TPB Board’, a key focus of the GSF as per the Final Report is to:

  • create a Charter of Tax Practitioner Governance, and once created oversee its implementation and ongoing application (paragraph 3.37 of the Final Report)
  • facilitate any changes to the Code of Professional Conduct in the Tax Agent Services Act 2009 and ensure they are only introduced after a comprehensive consultative process has occurred (paragraph 5.17 of the Final Report).

As such, GSF members highlighted the importance of the GSF in achieving the outcomes recommended by the Final Report and that the views expressed at the GSF should be properly considered and incorporated into the final decisions made by the TPB Board.

GSF members agreed that Charter allowed for dissenting views and other similarly important points to be documented in the Key Messages and made publicly available.

GSF members also indicated that the Charter should allow members to effectively and appropriately consult within their organisations, and, on limited occasions, external to their organisation, on matters that arise out of the GSF.

As such, the GSF endorsed the Charter, subject to amendments to make it clear that GSF members may distribute matters beyond their organisations, to the extent that those matters are included in the published Key Messages for the meeting, or with express agreement by the TPB (noting that the Key Messages will be approved by the Co-Chairs before publication).
 

Environmental scan of the tax practitioner profession

Members discussed the key issues facing the profession and their views on the key priorities of the GSF. Members noted the following key issues:

  • independence of the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) and the TPB and clarity in relation to their respective roles as they relate to tax practitioners
  • the implementation of the recommendations of the Final Report of the Review of the TPB
  • changes to Code of Professional Conduct, and in particular, ensuring that any changes address various practice structures
  • the establishment and ongoing operation of the Charter of Tax Practitioner Governance
  • sustainability of the tax profession
  • the impacts of the Financial Sector Reform (Hayne Royal Commission Response – Better Advice) Bill 2021, including the transition of tax (financial) advisers and the ongoing recognition of recognised tax (financial) adviser associations
  • the Modernising Business Register program and the future implications for tax practitioners
  • the impact of the Consumer Data Right regime on the tax profession
  • ensuring that the legislative and policy framework is flexible and supportive to appropriately adapt to new measures (for example, digitisation, changes to ATO policies and systems)
  • regulatory alignment between the TPB and co-regulators, particularly where there is cross-over in relation to registered tax practitioners and the services they provide, for example, the National Disability Insurance Scheme
  • the need for balance between principles-based regulation and the provision of appropriate certainty and prescriptiveness in the TPB’s requirements
  • raising professional standards whilst reducing red tape
  • the movement towards sharing data across Government and the private sector, and the enhancement of data.gov.au
  • the ongoing reforms in relation to the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing Act 2006 (AML/CTF), and any impacts on the profession that may result.


Proposed Work Program

The Co-Chairs presented a discussion paper proposing preliminary items for inclusion in the GSF’s Work Program.

Members noted that:

  • the independence of the ATO and the TPB should be considered further, beyond the context of Recommendation 3.1 in the Final Report
  • further clarity around timelines, priorities and action items will be established when further information is received from Government in relation to the treatment of the Final Report recommendations
  • external GSF members will meet and provide feedback out-of-session in relation to the Work Program
  • the TPB will prepare a preliminary draft Charter of Tax Practitioner Governance for GSF consideration
  • the review of the TPB’s education requirements will be considered by the GSF in due course
  • a meeting with the TPB and tax (financial) adviser associations will be arranged to discuss matters arising in connection with the Financial Sector Reform (Hayne Royal Commission Response – Better Advice) Bill 2021.


Concluding remarks

The Co-Chairs thanked all attendees and noted that:

  • the TPB will advise of the proposed date of the next meeting as soon as possible
  • ad-hoc meetings will be arranged as required
  • the possibility of having a guest speaker attend future meetings will be explored
  • the TPB will issue a media release in relation to the establishment of the GSF and the inaugural meeting.


Last modified: 4 August 2021