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Major taxation and accounting bodies condemn 'misleading' statements

Publication date: 16 Jul 97 | Source: THE TAX INSTITUTE

Australia's major taxation and accounting bodies today condemned the National Tax and Accountants Association (NTAA) for its scare campaign in regard to the proposed standards for tax agents.

The Australian Society of Certified Practising Accountants (ASCPA) and the Institute of Chartered Accountants in Australia (ICAA) who, together, represent almost 110,000 accountants and the Taxation Institute of Australia (TIA), whose membership of 10,000 includes most of Australia's top tax lawyers, said today that the NTAA claims simply could not go unchallenged.

The Australian Tax Office (ATO) in association with 11 key bodies representing taxpayers and tax agents has developed the draft regulatory framework for tax agents. It is designed to establish a framework which clarifies the responsibilities of the ATO, tax agents and taxpayers.

Spokesman for the three organisations and Chairman of the National Review of Standards for the Tax Profession, Mr Ian Langford-Brown, said an NTAA press release dated July 15 contained errors of fact as well as irrational assumptions which may mislead the public.

"Mr Regan claims that 95 per cent of tax agents have voted against the proposed standards. That 'vote' was through an NTAA poll of its own members, who number somewhere in the vicinity of 4000-5000, making up only a small proportion of Australia’s total number of 26,000 tax agents," Mr Langford-Brown said.

"He calls the NTAA Australia's peak taxpayer organisation. In fact, the NTAA represents tax agents, not taxpayers, and only 1200 of its members responded to the survey. It is from this small group that he has claimed 95 per cent of tax agents oppose the proposed standards."

"In fact, the NTAA survey results are not consistent with the results of surveys carried out by the TIA, the ASCPA and the ICAA."

"His claim that, under the proposed standards, the ATO will be able to intimidate tax agents with multiple audits is simply not supported by the facts."

He said Mr Regan's statement that the proposed standards would double the cost of preparing tax returns and seriously delay refunds was nonsense.

"The proposed standards have been prepared by a number of interest groups to be fair to all parties. The only organisation which believes they are not so is Mr Regan's NTAA".

"This is not a matter of interpretation. It is a matter of fact, of being able to read and understand what is quite clearly spelt out."

"The saddest thing about all this is that it is not only tax agents but taxpayers who will be the worse off if this important set of standards is derailed," Mr Langford-Brown said.