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Tax Return backlog predicted while Tax Agents Bill remains up in the air

Publication date: 20 May 08 | Source: THE TAX INSTITUTE

With little more than a month to go until the end of the tax year, the Taxation Institute of Australia today called on the Government to immediately clarify its plans for the long overdue changes to the tax agent’s bill or risk significant backlogs in the lodgment of tax returns.

President of the Taxation Institute, Sue Williamson, said the Taxation Institute was concerned at the Government’s failure to announce a decision in last week’s budget as to whether it would adopt a new legislative regime for the provision of tax services.

“The industry is currently in limbo about what is happening with the tax agent’s bill and it is important that the government either commit to amending the tax agents bill in consultation with the profession, or alternatively rule out proposed changes,” Ms Williamson said.

“For more than 14 years the Taxation Institute has been urging that changes be made to laws surrounding the provision of tax services, so we can ensure they are delivered in the most professional way within the legislated time and there is no room for ambiguity about who can do what.

“Last year we were encouraged to see that there was some progress and we expected that a decision would be made.

“However, while we were pleased to see many of the outstanding matters from the previous government addressed in last weeks budget, we were disappointed to see the tax agents bill only appeared in the paper titled Category 5: Measures for which final decisions have not yet been reached.”

Ms Williamson said this meant that Australia’s taxation professionals were left in limbo about how they could meet the requirements of their clients, while ensuring the provision of services and taxation advice met with the highest level of professionalism.

“Some 73 per cent of individual taxpayers and 95 per cent of businesses turn to tax professionals each year to prepare tax returns, yet the current lack of clarity around what is happening with the tax agents bill could mean that tax professionals are unable to meet the client demand,” Ms Williamson said.

“The tax professional is now in a position of not being able to make any informed decisions around their business structures and whether they can use domestic and international outsourcing to meet the demand for services, as there is no certainty about the future of the tax agent’s bill.

“This is on top of the fact that many tax professionals are already facing significant challenges posed by the skills shortage that the taxation industry is facing.

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Peter Laidlaw

Lighthouse Communications Group

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