ICB has presented a set of concepts and thoughts to the Treasury independent review of the Registered Agent regime (the Tax Agent Services Act 2009, the regulations and the operations and Governance of the Tax Practitioners Board).
The submission is built on and provided to Treasury in the context of other discussions and information.
ICB supports the Objects, the purpose, the concepts behind the TASA2009 and the role of the TPB. While expressing concern over a number of facets of the 9 years of its operation we believe the regime has improved the tax ecosystem and the recognition of BAS Agents and Bookkeepers.
We are seeking for the review to result in a legislative governance and operation framework that enables contemporary professional and competent services to be provided only by registered Agents.
We are seeking for an education and skills based system to support registration of appropriate persons and competent service delivery.
To whom does the Tax Professional “TP” (the registered BAS Agent) first answer to? The ATO or the taxpayer? By ensuring that the TP first answers to the TPB they have a truly independent arbitrator of their behaviour!
The TPB should be ensuring that all intermediaries, including the TP, are independently, competently and professionally assisting taxpayers to apply the law to the taxpayer’s circumstances.
A tax professional (TP) of the future will need to be registered and regulated by a strong TPB. There must be regulation over who the ATO is willing to collaborate with, in the ATO’s administration of the tax ecosphere. There must be regulation and oversight over who a taxpayer is able to rely on in their application of the tax law to their circumstances.
The TPB, as protector of the tax community, through the regulation framework must enhance its role in prescribing the skills and expertise required in order to maintain registration as a TP.
The TP of the future must remain professional, remain relevant, remain competent! The TP of the future must upskill!
“We can't all be all things to all people and registrations might need to be designed to reflect that.”
It should not be acceptable to have been educated once (in some cases many years previously) and permitted to retain registered Agent status based on just maintaining Insurance, doing what you do (relevant experience) and attending CPE. These factors alone do not ensure that the TP is applying current law competently to a business’s circumstances.
A regime of periodic re-accreditation should be considered. It may be appropriate that such re-accreditation would leverage off existing software skill training and assessments. Re-accreditation of tax knowledge would also bring certainty to the ability to rely on the TP. A concept similar to that embraced by the legal profession in acknowledging specific skill certification. It is not reasonable to expect any TP to be an expert in all areas of tax nor the application of tax to all business. It is reasonable to expect a taxpayer to be able to observe how recently a TP has been certified in respective skills.
To achieve the objectives, we believe the future regime must consider or enhance the TPB ability
- To regulate and register all persons and entities who provide tax services. Specifically including providers of automated solutions. “all tax service providers”
- To register an Agent to perform services in the areas of tax to which they have been appropriately educated and experienced. “Specialisation”.
- To renew the registration of an agent only when the agent can prove current knowledge and expertise in the respective areas of tax. “Currency”.
- To require an Agent to undergo training and updating in current ATO online systems and how to use them and engage with the ATO. “ATO Practice”.
- To require an Agent to undergo training and updating in contemporary business compliance solutions. “Digitisation”.
- To provide requirements and enforce professional and ethical conduct in a relevant, timely and contemporaneous manner. “Conduct”.
- To openly and actively take action against unregistered tax service providers. “Unregistered”.
- To work more collaboratively and openly with the ATO, specifically in relation to matters of agent inappropriate behaviour. “ATO Interaction”.
- To be independent of the ATO. “Independence”
- To be relevant to the profession. “Relevance”
Click here to review the full submission