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Who needs to register as a tax agent?

Who needs to register as a tax agent?

If anyone provides tax agent services for a fee or other reward, they must be registered with the Tax Practitioners Board (TPB).

There are severe penalties for anyone providing tax agent services for a fee or reward, advertising tax agent services or representing as a registered tax agent while unregistered.


What is a tax agent service?

Registration exemptions

Penalties for unregistered tax agents

For consumers

 

What is a tax agent service?

Tax agent services relate to:

  • working out or advising about liabilities, obligations or entitlements of clients under a taxation law, or
  • representing entities in their dealings with the Commissioner of Taxation,

where the client can be reasonably expected to rely on the service to satisfy liabilities or obligations, or to claim entitlements, under a taxation law.

For further information and examples of services visit Tax agent services

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Registration exemptions

There are limited situations where you do not need to register as a tax agent. These include if you are:

  • an employee or contractor of a registered tax agent and you do not provide tax agent services in your own right. However, if you are working for a registered company or partnership tax agent, the company or partnership might need you (as an individual) to be registered so that it has a sufficient number of registered individual tax agents
  • a legal practitioner and you:
    • are not prohibited from providing tax agent services under a State or Territory law that regulates legal practice and the provision of legal services, and
    • do not prepare and lodge returns or return like statements*, except in the course of acting for a trust or deceased estate as trustee or legal personal representative.

*Note: Return like statements include business activity statements, instalment activity statements, superannuation guarantee statements and pay as you go withholding payment summary or income statements.

There are also certain services which are specifically excluded from the definition of a tax agent service, and you do not need to be registered to provide these services. For a full list of these specified services refer to subregulation 13(1) of the Tax Agent Services Regulations 2009.

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Penalties for unregistered conduct

The civil penalty provisions in the Tax Agent Services Act 2009 prohibit certain conduct while unregistered. The Federal Court can impose severe penalties for breach of these civil penalty provisions. These are summarised in the table below:

Conduct prohibited without tax agent registration Penalties
Providing tax agent services for a fee or reward
  • Up to $52,500 for an individual
  • Up to $2662,500 for a body corporate.
Advertising tax agent services 
  • Up to $10,500 for an individual
  • Up to $52,500 for a body corporate.
Representing as a registered tax agent
  • Up to $10,500 for an individual
  • Up to $52,500 for a body corporate.

For further information refer to Civil penalty provisions for tax agents

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For Consumers

Check registration

To check if a tax agent is registered:

Benefits of using a registered tax agent

Registration ensures that tax agents:

  • have the qualifications and experience required to provide tax agent services
  • meet our fit and proper requirements
  • have appropriate professional indemnity insurance cover to protect consumers.

Additionally, under the safe harbour provisions in the Taxation Administration Act 1953, you may not be liable to some administrative penalties imposed by the Australian Taxation Office in certain circumstances if you use a registered tax agent.

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Further information


Last modified: 10 March 2020