As members are all too aware, tax is an inherently complex discipline. As High Court Justice Patrick Keane (as Chief Justice of the Federal Court at the time) described it: ‘opening the Tax Act is like opening the door to a parallel universe’. Consumer protection is one of the key objectives of the Tax Agent Services regime (TASR) of 2010. The regime aims to ensure that those people who attempt to navigate their way through this tax universe have the appropriate professional and ethical standards as well as the educational qualifications and experience to make the journey safely. This is particularly important for those people relying on the complex navigation required: consumers of tax advice.
The Government has now released draft regulations outlining the proposed registration requirements under TASR for financial advisers giving tax advice. It is extremely disappointing that consumer protection is not foremost in the Government's mind in subjecting financial advisers to TASR. I say this because the draft regulations do not ensure a robust framework that includes appropriately stringent tax and commercial law educational requirements for financial advisers.
This is clearly inadequate and risks undermining the fundamental principle of TASR: to protect consumers of tax advice.
The Tax Institute will continue to relentlessly argue the case on this issue with the Government and key decision makers in the Parliament. Members who feel strongly about this may wish to consider writing to Treasury about the content of the draft regulations and/or contacting your local member of Parliament; (the Tax Institute is writing to Treasury and key decision makers in any event).
The draft regulations can be viewed here, and please be in touch with me if you would like any further information.
Robert Jeremenko CTA