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22 Jul 2021 This week in tax

This week, our General Manager of Tax Policy and Advocacy, Scott Treatt, CTA, discusses a timely research project, led by Associate Professor Ken Devos (Swinburne University) and Dr Elizabeth Morton (RMIT University), on the tax profession’s response to the recent independent review of the Tax Practitioners Board (TPB).

An interview with Assoc. Prof. Ken Devos and Dr Elizabeth Morton

As you would be aware, the Final Report of the Review of the Tax Practitioners Board led by Keith James and Neil Earle (Report) was released by the Assistant Treasurer on 27 November 2020. Through the early part of this year, the comprehensive Report generated significant debate among the professional bodies and other stakeholders. It has now been eight months since the release of the report and we remain keen to work with government through consultation on the various recommendations and the Government’s response.

In recent months, The Tax Institute became aware of a research project being led by Associate Professor Ken Devos of Swinburne University and Dr Elizabeth Morton of RMIT University, on the tax profession’s response to the Report. The empirical evidence that will be collected through this project will greatly contribute to the consultation processes with government. In this regard we encourage all our members to complete the 10-minute survey on the link towards the end of this article.

The interview below outlines why Ken and Elizabeth have embarked on this research project and what they hope to achieve.

Scott: Why have you set out to undertake this research?

Ken: You are no doubt aware of the release of the Final Report of the Review of the TPB in 2019 and the government response to that report in 2020. As the recommendations in the report will have significant implications for all tax practitioners, it is important that Australian tax practitioners are given an opportunity to respond to some of the critical issues. 

Elizabeth: We see a need to more clearly ascertain the key benefits and challenges that these recommendations offer or create for tax practitioners. Of relevance are the recommendations concerning the Code of Conduct and related sanctions. As the recommendations suggest new requirements under the Code of Conduct, a broadening of sanctions, changes in the way investigations into tax practitioners are carried out and further publication of sanction details, there is a need to gather the perceptions of those who will ultimately be impacted so that policy can be influenced by the necessary data.

What are you hoping to achieve by undertaking this research?

Elizabeth: This research will identify the perceived gaps, benefits and challenges associated with the proposed recommendations and therefore assist policy makers in responding to the needs of the profession and ensuring policy developments are fit for purpose. 

The research has the capacity to inform both the TPB and the Government of the likely take-up and acceptance of the recommendations by tax practitioners and consequently the likely future changes in tax practitioners’ attitudes and behaviour. Moreover, this research will give an indication of the likely impact upon the tax practitioners’ compliance landscape overall. 

Ken: We consider the balance between sanctions offering a strong deterrent against behaviours that can undermine the integrity of the tax system and a Code that is fit for purpose. This research will break new ground in determining whether the recommendations will achieve their purpose. 

How will you achieve this?

Ken: With the recent release of the Review of the Tax Practitioners Board and the Tax Agent Services Act 2009 (TASA 2009), the time is right to obtain some vital empirical evidence on tax practitioners’ perceptions. A small independent research team has been established to firstly undertake a short survey of tax practitioners to gauge the tax profession’s response to the proposed changes to the TASA 2009 Code of Professional Conduct and related sanctions. Subsequently, the research team will gather further data on these issues by conducting interviews with a small number of tax practitioners who are willing to participate.

How to complete the survey

You are invited to take part in a short 10-minute survey by clicking on the link below to express your views on this important development which will directly impact upon your work.  

Please follow this link: TPB Review of the TASA 2009 Code of Conduct

Final comment from us

The collation of empirical evidence to support consultation processes is crucial to effective engagement with government. We commend Ken and Elizabeth for leading this research project and look forward to the results when they are available.

As always, we welcome your views and thoughts, which you can provide here.


Kind regards,

Scott Treatt, CTA


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