CTA1 Foundations

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linking academic studies and workplace practice

Part of these programs:Graduate diplomaCTA ProgramAustralian Tax Law

The Tax Institute’s CTA1 Foundations is an introductory subject that provides a balance between technical material and practical application in the workplace. The subject develops your knowledge in a broad range of areas of tax law, so that you not only become a valued resource to an employer, but also get ahead of the pack. 

Contact an education adviser

1300 TAX EDU (1300 829 338)


  • Course code: ATL001
  • Core subject
  • 30 structured CPD hours
  • 13 weeks (130 hours of study)
  • 6 credit points

Establish your career in tax

CTA1 Foundations is essential for all new entrants to the Australian tax profession as it provides you with a working knowledge of the key tax compliance requirements of the Australian tax system, and other principles and processes, through hands-on training. If you want to build a solid foundation for your career in tax, or just revisit the fundamentals, this subject is for you.

Learn tax with The Tax Institute

The Tax Institute has over 70 years’ experience as Australia’s leading educator and professional association in tax. We exist to enhance the credentials of tax professionals through training and education, knowledge products, and recognise tax professionals with our internationally respected CTA designation.


  • CTA pathway
    Pathways to tax agent and CTA status
  • Workplace competence
    Increase workplace productivity by undertaking everyday tax compliance tasks.
  • Confidence
    Gain skills using key business systems and terminology.


Download a PDF on how to become a tax agent


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Request an information pack

To speak to a Candidate Adviser please call:

1300 TAX EDU (1300 829 338)
or complete the form.




Introduction to the Australian tax system

On completion of the module you will be able to:

  • explain the basic structure of tax, including who pays tax and how a taxpayer’s tax liability is calculated
  • identify the sources of tax law, including the roles of the statutes, the ATO and the courts and tribunals
  • explain the basics of the various compliance obligations imposed on all taxpayers
  • discuss the characterisation and treatment of income, including the distinction between ordinary and statutory income
  • explain the requirements for a taxpayer to claim an amount as a general deduction, including the connection requirement and the impact of the four negative limbs
  • discuss the characterisation and treatment of expenses, including the distinction between general and specific deductions
  • discuss the impact of a taxpayer carrying on a business on the characterisation and treatment of its income and expenses
  • explain the impact of an amount being characterised as capital in nature (both from an income and deductibility perspective)
  • discuss basic concepts of the treatment of expenses, including being able to discuss and distinguish general and specific deductions as well as employment and business expenses
  • explain the limitations placed on an employee with respect to the deductibility of certain costs (eg. motor vehicle expenses)
  • explain the impact of tax offsets on a taxpayer’s tax liability. Identify where to access the required knowledge of the Tax Agent Services Act (TASA) 2009 and the Code of Professional Conduct.

Tax Agents Services Act (TASA) 2009 and The Code Of Professional Conduct

On completion of the module you will be able to:

  • recall the objects of TASA 2009
  • relate the requirements of the registration process and eligibility to register as a tax agent and BAS agent under TASA 2009 to your own circumstances or that of your firm’s employees
  • identify the professional and ethical standards contained in the Code of Professional Conduct (the Code) in section 30-10 of TASA 2009
  • link the administrative sanctions that may be imposed for specific breaches of the Code
  • relate the civil penalty provisions to the contraventions of conduct of registered and unregistered agents
  • quantify the Tax Practitioners Board’s power to apply to the Federal Court for an injunction
  • list a registered tax agent's and BAS agent's obligations to notify the Tax Practitioners Board of a change of circumstances.


On completion of the module you will be able to:

  • apply the different tax rates applicable to taxpayers
  • identify at what point a taxpayer is liable to pay the Medicare levy and surcharge and how this is calculated
  • recognise when a taxpayer is eligible for a tax offset and understand the calculations involved
  • determine the amount of HELP repayment to be made by a taxpayer for the year
  • explore the impact that reportable fringe benefits have on several tax calculations
  • explain the self-assessment system
  • gather all the information necessary to arrive at the taxable income and calculate the net tax payable/refundable for a taxpayer.


On completion of the module you will be able to:

  • determine whether the activity undertaken is a business or a hobby
  • analyse the point at which income is derived and therefore included in the taxable income of the taxpayer
  • determine whether a business is a small business entity and what benefits may arise from the system
  • identify at what point a taxpayer may claim a loss on a non-commercial business activity
  • recognise and apply the special rules that apply to individuals who derive their income from personal efforts or skill
  • identify deductions particular to a business as well as specific deductions
  • recognise and apply capital allowance provisions, pre-payment rules, trading stock and bad debts
  • apply the special rules that relate to primary producers.


On completion of the module you will be able to:

  • identify and apply relevant taxation legislation and guidelines in relation to the choice of business structures
  • apply these legislative rulings and guidelines in differing circumstances
  • interpret the basic consequences of each structure for the client
  • complete a return for a self-managed super fund (SMSF).

Goods and services tax and payroll

On completion of the module you will be able to:

  • understand how GST works
  • identify and apply relevant GST legislation and guidelines to simple transactions that may involve GST
  • understand the impact of GST on a business
  • establish and maintain a payroll.

Capital gains tax

On completion of the module you will be able to:

  • determine whether an asset is subject to CGT
  • determine any applicable CGT exemptions
  • identify the circumstances in which capital gains or losses can be deferred
  • calculate the amount of a capital gain or loss.

Fringe benefits tax

On completion of the module you will be able to:

  • determine whether FBT liability arises for an employer with a particular focus on the provision of car fringe benefits to employees
  • calculate FBT liability in relation to car fringe benefits
  • identify the more common exemptions from FBT
  • understand how FBT interacts with GST
  • list the types of state taxes and identify the current rates and when the liability for each tax applies.


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Modes of study 
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Face-to-face study

Face-to-face study allows candidates to attend lectures in CBD venues in mainland capital cities, and some regional locations, subject to minimum numbers. Contact your state office if you are interested in this study format.

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Distance study

Distance study utilises group web/teleconference tutorials and provides candidates with comprehensive electronic, online and printed resources, and increased communication with the Subject Convenor and Tutorial Leader.

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Intensive study

The intensive study format is typically held over a reduced 6 week period that concludes with an exam, and candidates receive support from comprehensive electronic, online and printed resources, as well as web/teleconference tutorials for some subjects.

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Assessment-only allows candidates to accelerate their studies by progressing directly to the assessment for the subject based on prior study, qualifications and experience.

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More information

Note: All candidates will also be expected to devote appropriate time to exam preparation and workplace applications.

Regular study period (face-to-face study)

  • 3 hours for the pre-reading module
  • 3 hours Code of Professional Conduct online module
  • 3 hours face-to-face lectures
  • 8 x 45-minute online multiple choice assessment (Checkpoint tests)
  • 2.15-hours exam and recommended 6-10 hours exam preparation
  • Recommend 6 hours per module of private study

Total approximately 102 hours (within 16 weeks)

Regular study period (distance study)

  • 2 hours for the pre-reading module
  • 3 hours Code of Professional Conduct online module
  • 2 hours x 4 web/teleconference tutorials (optional)
  • 8 x 45-minute online multiple choice assessment
  • 2.15-hours exam and recommended 6-10 hours exam preparation
  • Recommend 8-10 hours per module of private study

Total approximately 130 hours (within 13 weeks)


For further information please contact one of our education advisers on 1300 TAX EDU (1300 829 338) or email taxeducation@taxinstitute.com.au.

Who is it for?

CTA1 Foundations is ideal for:

  • recent graduates of accounting and law, school leavers, bookkeepers, cadets, registered tax agents and financial planners
  • those looking to register, or re-register, as a tax agent with the Tax Practitioners Board (TPB) by meeting their course in Australian taxation law education requirements
  • overseas professionals who wish to gain the basics to ensure they are “work ready” when they arrive in Australia (including members of the Chartered Institute of Taxation (UK) and Irish Tax Institute)
  • anyone who is interested in gaining entry level skills that enable performance of common compliance tasks when working with tax agents, accounting firms or corporations.
Entry requirements

Candidates are required to meet the entry requirements for the Graduate Diploma and hold current membership with The Tax Institute.

Recognition and exemptions

For further information please contact one of our education advisers on 1300 TAX EDU (1300 829 338) or email taxeducation@taxinstitute.com.au.

Learning outcomes

On completion of CTA1 Foundations you will be able to:

  • apply the ethics, responsibilities and duties of a tax professional in all professional communications including those with the Australian Taxation Office (ATO), the Tax Practitioners Board and the client, in accordance with the Code of Professional Conduct
  • interview a client and prepare an individual income tax return involving a range of compliance taxation issues
  • determine how the PAYG system applies to a taxpayer, and prepare routine BAS and IAS statements
  • advise individual income tax clients on a limited range of issues
  • maintain client administration records and liaise with the ATO in respect of lodgment lists for individual income tax returns, BAS statements and IAS statements
  • lodge all compliance statements, income tax returns and fringe benefits tax returns with the ATO.
Complimentary materials

Business alliance partner offers

All CTA1 Foundations candidates receive complimentary access to the following online publications from our business alliance partners:

  • Australian Tax Handbook, Thomson Reuters
  • Australian Master Tax Guide, CCH Australia Limited.

Note: all assessment tasks must be passed in order to complete the subject.

Regular / Intensive program

Assessment task Pass mark Weighting
Online checkpoint tests 50% 40%
Exam 50% 60%


Assessment task Pass mark Weighting
Online checkpoint tests 50% 40%
Exam 50% 60%

The CTA1 Foundations subject also forms part of:

This subject provides a pathway to becoming a:

Career outcomes

On completion of CTA1 Foundations further career opportunities include, but are not limited to:

  • accountant (other requirements apply)
  • bookkeeper or BAS agent
  • cadet, graduate or trainee accountant
  • consultant
  • financial adviser
  • graduate lawyer
  • tax analyst.
Key study dates
Subject Study
Period 3
2014 *
Period 1
Period 2
Period 3
ATL001 CTA1 Foundations

* Pricing may be different for the Study Period 3, 2014 than provided.

2015 Study Period 1 Study Period 2 Study Period 3
Early Bird Enrolment 11 February 2015 17 June 2015 21 October 2015
Regular Enrolment 25 February 2015 01 July 2015 04 November 2015
Commencement, the week beginning* 02 March 2015 06 July 2015 09 November 2015

* The course commencement date is when candidates will receive correspondence from the course coordinator and access to the online learning system. This is when we recommend candidates commence their readings in preparation for the first lecture or webconference tutorial.

Frequently asked questions
Corporate and tailored solutions

Corporate and in-house

The Tax Institute can offer group discounts, corporate graduate course solutions, and customised or in-house training options for your firm.

Speak to Guy Burrows on +61 2 8223 0069 or email to enquire about our partnering arrangements for corporate and in-house options.

Single subject

The Tax Institute offers all subjects that form part of the Graduate Diploma of Applied Tax Law as stand-alone subjects for those who wish to fill a knowledge gap or support their career development without enrolling in a full qualification or course.

Speak to our Education Advisers on 1300 TAX EDU (829 338) to enquire about single subject options.

Contact us



CTA1 Foundations
New member






Non-refundable membership fee (incl GST) for non-members and enrolment. It is a requirement of enrolment that all candidates are members of The Tax Institute. This membership is designed to assist with learning and provide access to additional support throughout your studies. Your membership will expire 30th June the following financial year at which time you will be prompted to either pay the new member continuing candidate non-refundable renewal fee of $250 (incl GST) or have the option to obtain full membership.

Subjects accredited within the Graduate Diploma do not attract GST.


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