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Who needs to register as a tax agent?

Who needs to register as a tax agent?

If you provide tax agent services for a fee or other reward, you must be registered with the Tax Practitioners Board (TPB) unless an exemption applies to you. 

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.

Tax agent services include BAS services and tax (financial) advice services. 

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 registered qualified tax relevant provider (QTRP) with ASIC
  • a company or partnership providing tax (financial) advice services and you ensure every individual providing tax (financial) advice services on your behalf is registered either as a QTRP or a tax agent
  • 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 section 26 of the Tax Agent Services Regulations 2022.

Transitional arrangement for tax (financial) advisers 

Transitional arrangements apply if you were registered as a tax (financial) adviser as at 31 December 2021 and you are not a relevant provider with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC). Under this transitional arrangement, you can legally provide tax (financial) advice services for a fee or other reward until 31 December 2022 without being registered as a tax agent.  

For further information refer to Frequently asked questions – Single disciplinary body for financial advisers.

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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 $55,500 for an individual
  • Up to $277,500 for a body corporate.
Advertising tax agent services 
  • Up to $11,100 for an individual
  • Up to $55,500 for a body corporate.
Representing as a registered tax agent
  • Up to $11,100 for an individual
  • Up to $55,500 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: 1 April 2022