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TPB Consultative Forum Report 12 August 2014

Tax Practitioners Board Consultative forum report – 12 August 2014

On 12 August 2014, the Tax Practitioners Board (TPB) held a Consultative Forum (forum) in Sydney with representatives from a number of professional associations. This was the third forum held in 2014.

Board and TPB representation at the forum consisted of:

  • Ian R Taylor – Chair of the Board
  • Cynthia Coleman – Board member
  • Rosemary Holloway – Secretary
  • Tariq Kumar – Senior policy adviser to the Chair of the Board
  • Peter Lechlein – Communications manager
  • Neil Pegg – Secretariat.

Representation at this forum consisted of:

  • Australian Institute of Quantity Surveyors
  • Australian Taxation Office (ATO)
  • Association of Accounting Technicians Australia
  • Association of Taxation and Management Accountants
  • Australian Bookkeepers Association Ltd
  • 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
  • Law Society of New South Wales
  • National Tax Agents' Association Ltd (NTAA+)
  • Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors
  • Self-Managed Super Fund Professionals’ Association of Australia
  • Taxpayers Australia Inc. Tax Practitioners & Advisers Ltd (TAI PAL)
  • The Tax Institute.

Apologies were noted from the Australian and New Zealand Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) and the New Zealand Institute of Chartered Accountants.

This draft report summarises the key points discussed at the forum. In accordance with past practice, it is intended only to provide an overview of the issues that were discussed and does not represent the final views of the Board, nor is it intended as minutes of the forum.

Update from the TPB

Registrations

  • The TPB continues to meet service standards, as outlined in the TPB’s Strategic plan, in relation to Registrations processing results. The overall weighted average for processing registration applications in the 2013-14 financial year was 21 days, while also recognising that the TPB’s ability to sustain these service standards may be impacted by budgetary constraints and increased workload in association with administering a system for the registration of tax (financial) advisers from 1 July 2014.
  • The TPB will continue to identify opportunities that enable streamlined processing and it was highlighted that it is important for agents to ensure they maintain currency of their email and telephone details with the TPB. In this regard, it was noted that following the introduction of email reminders, the TPB has witnessed a significant improvement in timeliness in relation to agents lodging registration renewal applications. This process will be further complemented by the proposed implementation of SMS reminders in the near future.

Compliance

  • In conjunction with maturity of the TPB’s proactive work program and refined processes in relation to the number of ATO referrals, there has been a slight decrease in the number of complaints and referrals in comparison to the previous year.
  • External sources constitute approximately half of the total number of complaints with the main issues raised concerning acting in the best interest of the client and competency of services (subsections 30-10(4) and 30-10(7) of the Tax Agent Services Act 2009 (TASA)).
  • Internal project work in relation to professional indemnity (PI) insurance obligations and personal tax obligations represented a significant proportion of the primary breach of finalised cases.
  • A total of 310 sanctions were applied in the 2013-14 year (including, among other outcomes, 49 terminations and 66 suspensions), demonstrating generally good compliance with the TASA when having regard to the total population of registered agents.

Communication activities

  • The forum noted the listing of recently issued TPB information products including, among other things:
    • Exposure draft (ED) information sheet TPB(I) D22/2014: Payroll service providers, which was released for the purpose of assisting payroll service providers to determine if they need to register with the TPB as a tax or BAS agent. The closing date for submissions was 25 August 2014.
    • finalised papers for tax (financial) advisers in relation to the following:
      • What is a tax (financial) advice service?
      • PI insurance requirements
      • Continuing professional education (CPE) requirements.

Professional practice issues

Tax (financial) advisers

  • Having regard to feedback received from financial advisers and the ATO, the TPB  intends to develop a relevant legislative instrument in relation to extending the definition of a tax (financial) advice service to incorporate the following particular interactions:
    • applying for a TFN and/or ABN
    • excess contributions tax, including negotiating payment arrangements
    • determining dependency for Superannuation Industry (Supervision) Act 1993 purposes.
  • Recognising that tax (financial) advisers are required to comply with obligations under the Code of Professional Conduct (Code) from the time they register with the TPB, the TPB has developed a summary Code comparison table on its website comparing the Code items with relevant obligations under the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth).
  • The forum provided comments and suggestions for the purpose of providing guidance to assist the TPB in developing and publishing an ED information sheet on the following topics in the near future:
    • Sufficient number requirement for partnership and company registered tax (financial) advisers
    • What is a fee or other reward?

Other issues

Data access associated with software and Cloud usage

  • It was noted that the growing online presence in association with increasing usage of Cloud, software programs and online data management has raised questions in regard to what is required of an agent. In this regard, the TPB will be seeking feedback in relation to an appropriate position on data access associated with software and Cloud use for the purpose of providing relevant guidance in due course.

Tax receipts

  • The TPB has a general expectation that all ATO correspondence received by a registered agent on behalf of a taxpayer (including tax receipts and notices of assessment) should be passed on to the taxpayer, along with all other documentation which is required to be passed on by law. The TPB intends to highlight this message in its next eNews edition.

Next meeting

The next forum will be held on 25 November in Docklands.

Last modified: 3 September 2014