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When is giving advice about tax laws legal?


This article examines Commonwealth, state and territory laws which regulate who may engage in legal practice and who may provide tax agent services. The article is extracted from a much longer paper examining the issues which was presented at the 2013 NSW Tax Forum. In Victoria, at least, a tax agent who gives advice as to income tax matters, or provides documents, in his or her capacity as a tax agent does not give what is ordinarily understood as legal advice and therefore may not engage in legal practice. This fiction is known as the “Felman Bubble”.

The author concludes that, since tax agents provide a significant proportion of the advice about the taxation laws, anecdotally even advising lawyers on a regular basis, the time has arrived for the fictitious Felman Bubble to be legislatively enshrined but accepts that, in the face of the federal–state and state–state rivalries, that outcome will be achieved only with sustained and joint lobby action by the various professional bodies representing tax agents.

Author profile

Christopher Wallis
Chris has a long history of addressing difficult issues particularly in the context of tax education and tax training. He is located in Melbourne and has been at the Bar for 22 years, as well as sharing his specialist knowledge with practitioners while running training sessions. - Current at 18 February 2013
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