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This week saw sustained, targeted action by the Taxation Institute on behalf of members, in response to reports that the Government is considering excluding financial planners giving tax advice from the new Tax Agent Services Regime. President David Williams and I were in Canberra for meetings with the key economic stakeholders in both the Government and the Opposition.

We met with the Assistant Treasurer, Senator the Hon Nick Sherry, to express members’ deep concerns with any possible carve out of financial planners giving tax advice. We urged the Minister to ensure taxpayers are protected from potential risks, by ensuring that all parties that provide tax advice are covered by the regime. 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. This is consistent with the underlying consumer protection policy intent of the law.

We also strongly argued the case to the tax advisors to the Treasurer, the Hon Wayne Swan MP, and to the Chairman and Secretary of the Government’s Economic Caucus Committee. Amongst other meetings, we also debated the matter with the Government’s chief policy adviser in the Treasury.

The Institute issued a media release on 9 March ‘Tax experts fight against exemptions that erode consumer protection’ and spoke with journalists about the issue. Flowing from this, The Australian Financial Review published a letter from the Institute on 10 March: “Advisers must meet standards”. We will continue to vigorously pursue this matter on behalf of members and we are currently finalising a letter to the Minister on the issue. The Tax Agent regime goes to the heart of strengthening the integrity of the tax system and the tax profession.

Please find below details of other activities this week.

Kind regards
Robert Jeremenko FTIA

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