The external professional association members1 of the Tax Practitioners Board (TPB) Tax Practitioner Governance and Standards Forum (TPGSF), collectively the Joint Bodies, make this submission in response to the Senate Economics Legislation Committee’s (the Committee) inquiry into the Treasury Laws Amendment (2023 Measures No. 1) Bill 2023 (the Bill), specifically Schedule 3 which relates to proposed changes to the Tax Agent Services Act 2009 (TASA). Additional professional association members from the TPB Consultative Forum also support the views presented in this submission.
The Joint Bodies are committed to supporting the reforms progressed from the Review and to provide insights from tax professionals and their clients that ensure the design and implementation of new rules are appropriate and effective.
The complexity and scope of Australia’s tax and superannuation system means that almost all Australian businesses and almost two-thirds of individuals use a tax practitioner to help them with their tax affairs. As at 30 June 2022, there were 45,333 tax agents and 17,007 BAS agents. Many of these agents employ others. Collectively, they employ tens of thousands more people to provide tax advice, as well as prepare and lodge the millions of returns and forms required by the ATO each year.
The size and importance of the tax profession means that changes to the regulatory framework need to be properly considered and carefully implemented. The Joint Bodies support the progression of the recommendations arising from the Review of the Tax Practitioners Board (the Review) in 2019 and acknowledge the refinement of proposals since the publication of the Government response to the Review recommendations.
We also recognise the improvements to the provisions contained in the Bill resulting from Treasury consultation in December 2022 on the implementation of the Government’s response to the Review of the TPB, including consideration of our response. Our following comments seek to inform the Committee of the views of and impacts on the tax profession of the Bill and to provide constructive suggestions for consideration by the Committee to achieve optimal design of the regulatory framework.