Newsletter from the Tax Practitioners Board
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Issue 33 | August 2019 - Tax (financial) adviser edition
Legislative updates

Improving tax practitioner regulation

The newly released TASA and TPB review discussion paper outlines the preliminary views of independent review Head, Mr Keith James, on key matters including the TPB’s:

  • governance arrangements
  • registration and education requirements
  • compliance and sanction powers; and 
  • regulation of tax (financial) advisers.  
We welcome the opportunities presented by this review and hope to see law reform that strengthens our role to support and protect the public. Submissions on the review paper can made on Treasury’s website by 30 August. 

AAT affirms TPB decision

On 26 July, the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) affirmed our decision to terminate Mr Immanuel Shmuel’s tax agent registration with a 12-month exclusion period. His registration was terminated as he failed to comply with his personal tax obligations and made a false declaration to the Board. The decision validates our current debt and lodgement work, confirming tax agents owe a higher standard of care when complying with their tax obligations, and that misleading the Board is a very serious matter.

Read more.

Unregistered agent arrest

Our recent work with the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) and police to investigate an unregistered tax agent services provider has led to an arrest. During our investigation we discovered that the unregistered preparer targeted the backpacker community and used client’s MyGov details to lodge income tax returns. Unsuspecting clients discovered their refunds were paid directly into the unregistered preparer’s bank account and in many cases their work-related expenses were significantly overstated.

Read more.

Practitioners with outstanding obligations reduced

Since the joint TPB and ATO debt and lodgement campaign was launched in December 2018, a change in behaviour has occurred for a significant number of tax practitioners who were recognised as having outstanding debt or lodgement obligations. Key results include:

  • close to 8,000 outstanding returns have now been lodged
  • collectable debt has reduced by 32 per cent from close to $115,000,000 to just over $78,000,000.
  • practitioners with outstanding obligations has reduced by 64 per cent to almost 3,000.

 Read more.

New financial year begins with 350 investigations

We are currently investigating more than 350 tax practitioners who are suspected of high-risk behaviour. We have made a number of termination decisions with exclusion periods of five years for re-applying for registration. A range of breaches were found including:

  • making false disclosures to the Board
  • failure to address significant personal tax debts and overdue lodgement
  • fraudulently lodging income tax returns
  • lodging false income tax returns without making adequate enquiries with clients to ensure the information was accurate.

Learn more.

1,365 CPE reviews completed

During the 2018/19 financial year we reviewed 1,365 tax practitioners to ensure they were meeting their continuing professional education (CPE) obligations. Formal compliance checks were undertaken for 673, with the following key outcomes:

  •  525 met their CPE obligations (that is, hours and activities)
  • 101 were marginally deficient in meeting their obligations and received education letters.

Investigations have commenced for those who have substantial deficits in meeting their obligations. To date, five practitioners have been issued suspensions and three received formal cautions.

Learn more.  

July compliance case outcomes

During July we considered 36 cases of alleged failure to comply with the Tax Agent Services Act 2009 (TASA), including the Code of Professional Conduct (Code). This resulted in 28 registration terminations; five suspensions; and three written cautions with orders. These decisions are reflective of the Board continuing to take a firm view on tax practitioners who fail to lodge their annual declarations, those with substantial outstanding personal tax obligations and expired professional indemnity insurance.

Read our new cases studies and watch this space for more.

TPB news

Consultative forum report

A joint TPB Consultative Forum and Financial Advisor Forum was held on 3 July. The forum helps us engage with recognised professional associations and assists in communicating our key messages to their members. At the forum we discussed: the future of the tax profession; policy matters; whistleblower legislation; compliance issues; and the CPE review. If you’re interested in finding out more on these topics you can refer to our forum report.

Read more.

Make the most of your letters of engagement

Did you know we highly recommend the use of letters of engagement between you and your clients? If you’re looking for practical advice and assistance on letters of engagement, check out our new practice note. Our guidance provides information on what to include in an engagement letter; our position on recurring or ongoing engagements; and the use of templates or example letters of engagement. Letters of engagement are a great way to avoid uncertainty and misunderstandings.

Learn more.

Tax Time

Make sure your tax affairs are up to date

Code item 2 of the Code requires all registered tax practitioners to lodge personal income tax returns and instalment or business activity statements on time. You are also required to pay your tax bill or have an arrangement in place with the ATO to pay any amounts owing. If we find you have failed to comply with your personal tax obligations, we may impose a sanction, which may include termination of your registration.
Learn more.

Practice management tips

Free compliance webinar

Don’t miss our free webinar, Compliance matters at the Tax Practitioners Board, scheduled for Wednesday 21 August. This webinar will provide an overview of our new proactive compliance program. It will showcase our current compliance projects and the outcomes delivered to date in 2019. All our webinars count towards your CPE and provide you with an opportunity to connect directly with us.
Register now.

Hear the latest from FASEA

Make sure you are keeping up to date with all the important news and updates from the Financial Adviser Standards and Ethics Authority (FASEA). You can sign up to receive FASEA announcements by visiting their website. FASEA is responsible for setting the education, training and ethical standards of licensed financial advisers in Australia.
Subscribe now.

Foreign qualifications and the FASEA education standard

The FASEA Foreign Qualification Assessment Application Form is now available. If you’ve obtained your qualification outside Australia, you may need to have it assessed to determine if it’ll meet the FASEA education standard. Before applying to FASEA, you must have an assessment by a Department of Education and Training approved body. This will assess if the foreign qualification is equivalent to an Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF) standard. We encourage you to get in early and have your qualifications assessed.
Learn more.


About the Tax Practitioners Board
The Tax Practitioners Board (TPB) was established to regulate tax practitioners in order to protect consumers. The TPB assures the community that tax practitioners meet the appropriate standards of professional and ethical conduct.
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