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Tax agents providing trust deeds and/or advising about trusts: Unauthorised legal practice?


Federal and state laws appear to be inconsistent on whether non‑lawyer tax agents can advise clients about trusts or supply clients with trust deeds. Trust‑related tax agent services are both authorised and prohibited. Federal laws allow tax agents to advise and represent clients in connection with tax liabilities. Broad and narrow formulations of state law proscribe the same activity when it amounts to legal practice. The nature of tax agent practices is examined. Consumer protection rationales of relevant statutes are explored together with the need to avoid fraudulent and abusive conduct. The supply of trust deeds and related advice is analysed and seen to be more than merely incidental to the supply of authorised tax services. In consequence, many of the tax agents who supply trust deeds and related advice are suggested to be engaged in unauthorised legal practice.

Author profile

Dr John Glover
Photo of author, John GLOVER John is a barrister practising in the fields of taxation, trusts and superannuation who has appeared in state and federal courts at all levels. He is also a professor in the Graduate School of School of Business & Law at RMIT University. Professor Glover is the sole author of three books as well as over 60 book chapters and articles in refereed law journals on taxation law, equity and trusts and is a co-author of Ford & Lee: The Law of Trusts. In the 2016-2017 year, Professor Glover worked full time for the Australian Taxation Office examining the relation between the Australian tax system and discretionary trusts linked to high net worth individuals. - Current at 27 October 2020
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