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TPB Consultative forum report - 22 July 2021

TPB Consultative forum report - 22 July 2021

Thank you for joining Ian Klug (TPB 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 TPB Consultative Forum held on Thursday 22 July 2021. We appreciate your valuable input and have produced a summary below to assist your association with communicating key messages to your members.


Accreditation of professional associations (recommendation 4.2)

  • Recommendation 4.2 in the Final Report of the Review of the TPB (James Review) and Government’s response was raised for discussion. In particular, Forum members noted the position paper circulated to members out-of-session by the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants, and Forum member responses.
  • Forum members noted that the recommendation addresses to separate issues, namely, the eligibility criteria for registration under the Tax Agent Services Regulations 2009 (TASR) and the ongoing recognition of professional associations by the TPB.
  • The TPB advised that it would provide the feedback received from members to date to Treasury through the consultation process in relation to this recommendation.

 
BAS agent visibility of Income Tax Account balance and debt payment arrangements

  • The Institute of Certified Bookkeepers (ICB) and Australian Bookkeepers Association (ABA) raised an issue with registered BAS agents not being able to view client income tax account balances and debt payment arrangements, which impacts the services that they can provide to clients. There was support from Forum members about this issue and that it would be appropriate for it to be addressed.
  • It was noted that there are two main impediments to the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) being able to allow BAS agents visibility of this information, namely, the operation of the secrecy provisions in the Tax Administration Act 1953 (section 355-25), and constraints with making changes to the ATO’s systems.
  • Both the ATO and the TPB will continue to consider this issue and work through possible administrative, legislative and technological solutions to this issue.
  • It was also noted that similar issues exist in relation to the ability of financial advisers to view superannuation information on the ATO’s systems.


Draft TPB Information Sheet TPB(I) D47/2021 Code of Professional Conduct – Acting honestly and with integrity

  • The TPB advised that it has recently undertaken a review of its information products which has led to the development a new Draft Information Sheet on Code Item 1. The purpose of this guidance is to assist registered tax practitioners with understanding their obligation under the Code of Professional Conduct to act honestly and with integrity.
  • On 1 July 2021, the TPB provided the Draft Information Sheet under embargo to Consultative Forum members, seeking out-of-session feedback by 29 July 2021.
  • Some Forum members advised concern with the assertion that the terms ‘honesty’ and ‘integrity’ are interchangeable, and whether the TPB’s guidance should be updated as a result of commentary in Leahy and Tax Practitioners Board [2020] AATA 2164.
  • Forum members indicated that they would provide submissions to the TPB following the meeting, and/or during public consultation.


Proposed amendments to TPB Information Sheet TPB(I) 12/2012 Insolvency practitioners: Do you need to register as a tax agent or BAS agent?

  • The TPB advised that it has undertaken a review of the Information Sheet TPB(I) 12/2012 Insolvency practitioners: Do you need to register as a tax agent or BAS agent? to provide additional guidance to small business restructuring practitioners regarding whether they are required to register as a tax or BAS agent.
  • On 1 July 2021, the TPB provided the amended Information Sheet under embargo to Consultative Forum members, seeking out-of-session feedback by 29 July 2021.
  • Forum members noted that they had some concerns in relation to the amendments to the TPB’s information sheet, particularly in relation to the potential requirement of small business restructuring practitioners to register as tax agents or BAS agents.
  • Forum members indicated that they would provide submissions to the TPB following the meeting, and/or during public consultation.


Consultative Forum Charter (draft)

  • Given the establishment of the Tax Practitioner Governance and Standards Forum (TPGSF), pursuant to Recommendation 3.3(b) of the James Review, the TPB reviewed and updated the TPB’s Consultative Forum Charter, to reflect the different roles and activities of the two forums.
  • The Consultative Forum endorsed the Charter without amendment. The Charter will be published on the TPB’s website, along with the TPGSF Charter.


Tax Practitioner Governance and Standards Forum – update from inaugural meeting

  • Co-Chair of the TPGSF, Elinor Kasapidis (CPA Australia) provided the Forum with an update in relation to the inaugural TPGSF meeting held on 6 July 2021.
  • The meeting ran well with the following matters discussed:
    • an environmental scan of the profession and the key area of focus of the TPGSF
    • the proposed work program of the TPGSF
    • the endorsement of the TPGSF Charter
    • an update from Treasury in relation to the consultation schedule for the TASA review recommendations.
  • Elinor advised that in response to the update provided Treasury, TPGSF members indicated a preference to be included in early consultation in the development stages of exposure draft legislation and proposed implementation of administrative measures. As such, it was agreed that non-Government TPGSF members would provide Treasury with a collective view/position in relation to a number of the recommendations from the Final Report.

 
TPB update

  • The TPB advised that it is currently developing the TPB’s 2024 Strategic Plan, which will be finalised at the July Board meeting. While it is an internally facing document, designed to give our Board and staff direction for the next three years, the TPB advised that it will share the Strategic Plan to Forum members in due course.
  • The TPB referred Forum Members to the TPB Operational Update paper, and in particular noted the following:
    • The TPB’s service standard of processing new and renewal applications is set at 80% within 30 days. The TPB achieved this service standard and processed new and renewal applications at 92% within 30 days.
    • The COVID-19 annual declaration concession has been extended to 31 December 2021.
    • During the 2020-21 financial year, the TPB closed 1,925 cases, however less than 10% of cases referred to the TPB were as a result of referrals from registered tax practitioners.
    • The TPB has conducted six webinars since the last Forum. Those webinars were attended by a total of 17,489 people, and the TPB’s webinars continue to receive over 90% satisfaction ratings in post-webinar surveys.
  • In relation to the low number of referrals of matters to the TPB from registered tax practitioners, a Forum member noted that this may be due to the TPB’s processes when lodging a complaint.


TPB and TASA Review update

The TPB noted that Treasury has advised that the first tranche of consultations will be in relation to Recommendations 4.3 (relevant experience) and 6.1 (sanctions).


Single Disciplinary Body update

  • Forum members were invited to discuss the Financial Sector Reform (Hayne Royal Commission Response – Better Advice) Bill 2021 and the transition of tax (financial) advisers from the TPB’s regime to ASIC.
  • Forum members raised concerns in relation to the following:
    • The ongoing registration and regulation of non-individuals under the new regime.
    • The concept of ‘sufficient number’ to provide services and supervisory arrangements has not been replicated.
  • If some financial advisers continue to be required to be registered under the TASA, there was concern that this would not address the policy objective of establishing a single disciplinary body.


ATO update

The ATO advised that it continues to meet with tax practitioners weekly throughout Tax Time with overall feedback being positive. The key points raised by tax practitioners with the ATO include the following:

  • clarity around record keeping requirements for future working from home arrangements, with the ATO reiterating that taxpayers should keep a record of hours worked from home and all receipts related to working from home expenses
  • tax practitioners are continuing to assist their clients to navigate new stimulus grants and payments.

The ATO has reminded tax practitioners about the need to ensure their clients keep up with other obligations which are due soon, such as Super Guarantee.


Presentation about the Modernising Business Registers Program

  • The ATO provided an update about the establishment of the Australian Business Registry Services (ABRS) and the intent of the Modernising Business Registers (MBR) program. In particular, the ATO advised that:
    • the director identification number (director ID) initiative will be the first service delivered by the MBR program
    • director ID will help prevent the use of false or fictitious director identities on the new registry service
    • there are approximately 2.7 million directors and around 200,000 new directors are added to the ASIC companies register each year
    • like a tax file number (TFN), this identification number is one for life and individuals must apply themselves
    • agents will play a key role in helping to educate and encourage people to apply for their director ID
    • a mix of engagement and communication activities are being planned to educate people about director ID obligations
    • they are working with agents and associations to co-design content to support their conversations with directors
    • when it's time to apply, directors will be able to use ABRS online services and will login using the myGovID app.
  • The director ID application process is currently being tested in a private beta and the project expects to enter the public beta later this year. More information is available at ato.gov.au/mbr
  • The ATO also provided an update in relation to the ‘Strengthening the ABN’ initiative, which will introduce new conditions to support the integrity of the Australian Business Register and build confidence in it as a trustworthy source of information. In particular, the ATO advised that:
    • from 1 July 2021, ABN holders with an income tax return obligation must lodge their income tax return. The earliest the Registrar may cancel an ABN under this circumstance is the second half of 2023
    • from 1 July 2022, ABN holders will need to confirm the accuracy of their details on the ABR annually. The earliest that the Registrar may cancel an ABN under this circumstance is 1 July 2022. However, the Registrar will wait at least until 1 July 2023 before considering cancelling ABNs under this new condition.
  • Treasury has commenced the legislative drafting process for the new measure, with consultation on the draft legislation expected in due course.


Policy update

Education Working Group update

  • The TPB noted that Phase 1 (Initiation Phase) of the review of the TPB’s Board approved courses and primary qualification requirements for registration Phase 2 (Planning Phase) are now complete.
  • The Review has entered Phase 3 (Execution Phase), where the TPB will start developing recommendations in relation to the entry pathways for registration as a tax and BAS agent, as well as recommendations in regard to the TPB’s requirements for Board approved courses, which will ultimately be presented to the TPGSF and Consultative Forum for consideration.

Exposure Draft Information Sheet: Supervisory arrangements under the TASA

  • The TPB noted that it released the Exposure Draft Information Sheet for public consultation on 31 May 2021, with the consultation period ending on 28 June 2021. The TPB received a total of seven submissions, which were mostly supportive of the Draft Information Sheet.
  • As a result of the feedback received, the TPB has made some minor amendments to the Information Sheet, which will be considered by the TPB’s Professional Practice Committee on 31 August 2021. It is expected that the Information Sheet will be published shortly thereafter.

Exposure Draft Explanatory Papers: Continuing Professional Education (CPE)

  • The TPB noted that at the June Board meeting, the Board considered and approved the recommendations made by the TPB’s Professional Practice Committee in relation to the review of the TPB’s CPE requirements.
  • In terms of implementation of the TPB’s revised policy, Forum members advised the TPB to consider delaying release and implementation of the requirements, noting a number of other reforms and challenges facing the profession in the coming months. It was suggested that the release of the requirements is delayed until at least June 2022.

Exposure Draft Practice Note: Proof of identity requirements

Reasonable care website guidance

  • The TPB noted that it is currently in the early stages of developing practical examples to provide greater clarity in relation to the types of conduct that meet and contravene the reasonable care requirements contained in the Code of Professional Conduct, which will include input from the TPB’s Board Conduct Committee and the ATO.
  • This guidance will be provided to Forum members for feedback in due course.


Next meeting

Forum members noted that the next Consultative Forum meeting will take place in December 2021.


Last modified: 20 August 2021