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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 CTA
Chris commenced practice as a Barrister in 1991 and 27 years later has a strong no nonsense reputation throughout Australia in the fields of equity and revenue law. Chris’ focus is on keeping clients out of the AAT and Court using attention to detail and negotiation to secure certainty for clients at the earliest opportunity, a focus which has involved him in numerous in-house facilitation sessions. Chris is a regularly published author and a member of the Editorial Board of the Australian Tax Law Bulletin and also of the Australasian Tax Teachers Association (ATTA). Chris presents regularly throughout Australia for the professional bodies and ATTA and has completed studies in international tax at the Institute for Austrian and International Tax Law at Wirtschafts Universitat in Vienna and the IBFD in Amsterdam. Two of Chris' recently published articles have addressed issues arising under the ATO's in-house facilitation process. Subsequent changes to the process reflected observations in the articles. - Current at 08 October 2019
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