Launched last week, the new complaint resolution process will see the TPB assess complaints from a client of a tax practitioner, determine if it is suitable to be referred back to the practitioner, before then directing the practitioner to resolve the complaint within three business days.
Failure to attempt to resolve the complaint within the stipulated time frame could lead to further investigation by the TPB.
Practitioners will have to notify the regulator on the outcome of the discussion with the complainant, and once the TPB determines it has been resolved, the complaint will be closed.
Where issues cannot be resolved between the practitioner and the client, the TPB will consider commencing an investigation or other actions to bring closure to the complaint.
According to a TPB spokesperson, the new process was initiated to ensure a quicker resolution to complaints that did not require the board to commence an investigation.
“Referrals will occur where we believe that the issues raised by the complainant can be best resolved by the practitioner engaging with the complainant rather than through the TPB undertaking compliance intervention,” the TPB spokesperson said.
“It will also ensure that tax practitioners are not subjected to a full and lengthy investigation process when an early intervention will resolve the complaint.
“It will ensure the compliance and investigations program of the TPB is better equipped to respond to a rapidly changing regulatory environment. The 72-hour complaint resolution process will ensure that TPB resources can now be directed at investigating high-risk agents.”
‘Out of the blue’
Accountants Daily understands that the professional associations were not consulted on the matter.
The Institute of Public Accountants general manager of technical policy Tony Greco said the 72-hour time frame was “aggressive” and potentially unfair to practitioners who were time-poor.
“This has come out of the blue and I was very surprised to see that,” Mr Greco said.
“That’s a pretty aggressive timeline considering a lot of practitioners are one-man shows —that seems like a very difficult timeline to adhere to. Without consultation, that may be something they may need to review because I can’t see it happening in the real world.
“That could put a lot of onus on the practitioner when a lot of the complaints are without merit and it’s almost like they are putting it back on the tax agent community to resolve complaints.”
The TPB has noted that it will accept practitioner feedback and review the outcomes and impacts of the new process in September.
Jotham Lian is the news 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.