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MEMBER 24 writes, in repsonse to MEMBER 20's comments about the high standards required of tax agents - see 2011 TAXVINE No 5 (18 February 2011):

"Whilst I agree that accountants have been subjected to an unfair playing field with financial planners, I believe you overrate the status of Tax Agents. As a recently registered Tax Agent I was astonished as to the eligibility requirements that exist to become one. Do you have a degree and 12 months experience? You can become a Tax Agent. Do you have sufficient work experience and can sit a self-learning short course? You can become a Tax Agent."

In contrast, MEMBER 25 writes:

"I find it incredible that a financial planner can provide tax agent services so easily!

Presently, to become a tax agent we need to go through years of study and work experience from which we don't just learn the numbers so to speak, but also learn a lot about professional judgment, consolidate the things we have learnt from our studies, and learn from experienced practitioners.

But now the proposal is that any Tom, Dick and Harry can go and do a course that enables them to provide a tax agent service. It seems to me that the Government is allowing financial planners to undercut tax agents. Why would anyone go through all the rigmarole of years of study and work experience when they can go and do a financial planner's course that will allow them to provide 'tax agent services'.

How are these financial planners going to provide a similar standard of advice when they haven't got the years of experience currently required to become a tax agent!? If the proposal does go through I expect to see plenty of unhappy clients in the future who have been advised (incorrectly) about superannuation, small business CGT, and any number of common (yet complicated) tax issues!

And don't get me started on the fact that they can advise clients about superannuation yet we can't..."

MEMBER 26 writes:

"I have mixed feelings about the method of regulation of financial planners. I am an authorised representative and regulated by ASIC, as well as being a tax agent regulated by the TPB. It is a move in the right direction to regulate these planners providing tax advice, but I get sick of hearing the poor dears crying that to be regulated by two bodies is an overkill. Most of us have had at least ASIC and the ATO regulating us for years."

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