Message from the Chair
As we approach the end of another year, I am pleased to reflect on the considerable progress made by both the TPB and registered tax practitioners in 2018.
Since the commencement of the Tax Agent Services Act 2009 (TASA) and the legislated Code of Professional Conduct (Code), the registered tax practitioner population in Australia has tripled from around 26,000 registered tax practitioners to 78,460 as at 30 November 2018.
During 2018, the TPB continued to protect consumers by ensuring tax practitioners met the registration and renewal requirements and were supported to respond to the challenges of rapidly evolving business practices and demanding client expectations.
The year in review
Our Annual Report 2017-18 was tabled in Parliament on 26 October. In my summary, I highlight:
- our work with tax (financial) advisers to process the significant volume of registration and renewal applications for some 19,000 tax (financial) advisers
- a 16% increase in our registration and renewal workload compared to the previous financial year. We prioritised new practitioner applications over renewals to allow applicants, once registered, to commence their business with minimal delays
- an improved online experience and the introduction of enhanced online services to greatly improve the registration and renewal process
- further guidance we provided on emerging issues such as cyber security and outsourcing and offshoring.
You can read more in our annual report.
The year ahead
Looking forward to 2019, we will continue working to uphold the standards of the tax profession, however we are increasingly facing challenges in regulating practitioners.
Research suggests a connection between a small number of tax practitioners and high-risk tax behaviour, which is supported by referrals from the Australian Taxation Office (ATO), and complaints from the public and other practitioners.
We are concerned by the emerging evidence suggesting a small number of registered tax practitioners are not meeting appropriate standards. To address these issues, we have acted to:
- establish a black economy investigations team, working closely with the ATO to investigate, prosecute and potentially terminate registration of tax practitioners found to be aiding client or dealing in the black economy
- increase our investigations and legal staff to manage additional referrals from the ATO for tax practitioners who are incorrectly managing their own tax affairs, and the affairs of their clients
- share information with other agencies and use data analytics to identify and target practitioners who pose the highest risk. We are also using this information to identify and act on entities providing tax agent services who are not registered with the TPB
- increase visibility of the outcomes of our investigations and will be ‘naming and shaming’ tax practitioners found to be failing to comply with their obligations
- apply the full range of sanctions available to impose, including termination of registration. Where relevant, we are working with other agencies such as the ATO, ASIC and Federal and State police on joint strategies for investigation into tax crime or misconduct
- undertake a strategic review of our internal operations to drive innovation, improve efficiencies, and leverage our technology and data analytics
- implement our CPE review strategy to ensure practitioners remain up to date.
As we move into the new year, we are launching a new strategy in relation to tax practitioners’ personal tax obligations. Moving forward, our business will have an increased focus on targeting professional and ethical misconduct and applying appropriate sanctions. We also acknowledge that the vast majority of tax practitioners do the right thing and we encourage you to keep up the good work.
We wish you a safe and enjoyable break, and look forward to continuing our work with you in the new year.
Ian R Taylor
Chair, Tax Practitioners Board