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Tax experts fight against exemptions that erode consumer protection

Publication date: 09 Mar 10 | Source: THE TAX INSTITUTE

The country's leading professional association in tax, the Taxation Institute of Australia, has today urged the Federal Government to ensure taxpayers are protected from potential risks, by ensuring all parties that provide tax advice are covered by the new Tax Agent Services Regime.

The Tax Agent Services Regime, which came into effect on 1 March 2010, requires tax advisors to meet a higher level of professional and ethical standards and introduces new wide ranging penalties for tax agents who fail to comply with the new standards.
The Taxation Institute is concerned that the Government is considering exempting from the laws some groups that provide tax advice, such as financial planners.

President of the Taxation Institute, David Williams, said the tough new laws were about ensuring that the tax profession is properly regulated and providing protection for the consumer.

"People receiving and relying on tax advice from anyone - be it their accountant or a financial planner - should expect that the advisor meets the requirements of the regime and that they are covered by the protective measures that it offers," Mr Williams said.

"Tax agents have no issue with being exposed to greater scrutiny and more significant requirements around education and service levels as a result of the new regime. However, the same professional and ethical standards should also protect taxpayers from any party providing tax advice, including financial planners," Mr Williams said.

"The regime goes to the heart of strengthening the integrity of the tax system and the tax profession and any blanket exemption of advisors of any kind where they are clearly providing advice on the impact of the tax laws to a particular situation will only damage the good work the regime was intended to deliver."

For more information:

Robert Jeremenko, Senior Tax Counsel, Taxation Institute of Australia, T: 02 8223 0011, M 0468 987 300

Craig Regan, Lighthouse Communications, 02 9692 8811, 0408 448 527; John Hanrahan, 02 9692 8811, 0411 212 965