In a discussion paper on the review of the Tax Practitioners Board, released last week, a consultation point raised the question of whether the primary educational qualification for a BAS agent should be increased to a diploma-level qualification.
BAS agents currently require at least a Certificate IV in Financial Services in bookkeeping or accounting.
Speaking to The Bookkeeper, the Institute of Certified Bookkeepers executive chair Matthew Addison said simply raising the education bar to that of a diploma-level qualification would not improve standards across the profession.
“We do not believe the change of the entry-level qualification to, for instance, a diploma [qualification] adds any capacity or opportunity to the Registered Training Organisations (RTO) or the student to acquire a more appropriate level of underpinning knowledge,” Mr Addison said.
“We understand that a Cert IV level of qualification provides the framework for an RTO to provide sufficient education in terms of hours and learning outcomes to achieve the knowledge requirements for a BAS agent.
“We do believe that skills-based and task-focused training and accreditation in addition to the formal qualification is required. This is best provided by the industry itself in addition to the formal qualification.”
Skill, topic training
Mr Addison believes the current Certificate IV qualification should be maintained, alongside applicable post-qualification accreditations that touch on practical aspects of the job.
The practical-based training could include how to correctly complete and lodge a BAS, specific training on GST, superannuation guarantee obligations or Single Touch Payroll.
“For BAS agents currently in the system, a transition period [should be introduced] to enable accreditations to be obtained in the areas that the agent provides services, i.e. GST or BAS preparation or payroll,” Mr Addison said.
“The same system should be applied to tax agents; base knowledge provided by the appropriate level of formal education, supported and enhanced by practical outcome-based training and accreditation in the areas that the agent provides services.”
All parties with an interest in the review are urged to make a submission on the discussion paper, which can be found on Treasury’s website.
Jotham Lian is the editor of Accountants Daily, the leading source of breaking news, analysis and insight for Australian accounting professionals.
Before joining the team in 2017, Jotham wrote for a range of national mastheads including the Sydney Morning Herald, and Channel NewsAsia.