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Tax Agent Bill: Get the Detail Right and the Tax Agents will Support the Measures

Publication date: 13 Aug 07 | Source: THE TAX INSTITUTE

“The Government is to be congratulated for coming forward with an extensive framework of regulatory reforms for tax service providers and for opening this reform process up to public scrutiny" said Peter Moltoni, President of the Taxation Institute of Australia, "but there is a long way to go before the proposed measures come up to scratch".

"The draft Tax Agent Services Bill released for public comment in May is an attempt to improve the registration and regulation of tax professionals. However, the details of the measures in its current form need urgent surgery if the Bill is going to succeed in its quest" warned Mr Moltoni.

Features such as a national Tax Agents' Board with more appropriate administrative and regulatory powers, safe harbour provisions to protect taxpayers and penalties for those falsely holding themselves out as being suitably qualified and/or experienced tax advisers are welcome reforms.

"However, after consulting extensively with our tax agent members, it's clear that there are at least two features of this reform package that need to be overhauled before the draft Bill can proceed to finalisation", noted Mr Moltoni.

"There are serious doubts about whether the new Board is appropriately independent for its new role and there is considerable angst and uncertainty about the current format of the propose Code of Professional Conduct and how it will impact on the tax services market".

"If the Government continues in open and frank discussions with all stakeholders and is responsive to the concerns raised by the Taxation Institute in its submission, then there is no reason why the measures could not be introduced in a revised form".

"If given a fair hearing we are well on the way to establishing a new regime for the regulation of tax agents that will benefit the agents, their clients and the community as a whole", summarised Mr Moltoni.