From 1 July 2019, the TPB will make consumer price index (CPI) adjustments to application fees to register or renew as a tax agent, BAS agent or tax (financial) adviser.
The CPI adjustment was introduced by the government in the 2018–19 federal budget, which saw registration fees rise to fund the announced $20.1 million boost to the TPB.
The adjustment will see tax agent registration rise to $687 from $675, tax (financial) adviser registration to $550 from $540, and BAS agents registration to $137 from $135.
While the increments have been minuscule, Tony Greco, Institute of Public Accountants general manager of technical policy, believes the costs have been adding up, particularly since the “not in business” category of registration was removed since 1 July 2018.
“In the scheme of things, this is just a CPI increase which is small when you consider all things, but the one that underlies it is the fact that if you are a one-man show and you operated through an entity, one registration would be non-business and one would be business, but now when they come up for renewal, that practitioner’s registration is going to be two lots of that higher amount, rather than one non-business [registration],” Mr Greco said.
“The point is the ongoing increasing burden on small practitioners. Every complexity, every cost is going up, and practitioners are under fee pressures as well — they can’t actually pass on a lot of these increased costs. It is difficult for some, not all, to keep ahead.”
While Mr Greco believes the TPB should be well funded, he does not believe tax practitioners should have to bear all of the costs.
“We said in our submission that the Tax Agents Services Act (TASA) is really about protecting the consumer, and it’s the government’s way to ensure that agents are doing the right thing by the consumer, so to some extent we believe some of the funding should also come from the government rather than just the profession itself,” Mr Greco said.
“There’s a lot of public protection built into TASA, and therefore, there is a community service being provided to users and the general public. So, there’s an argument to say that some of that funding should be sourced from the government’s coffers.”
The sentiment is shared by CPA Australia, with general manager of external policy Paul Drum earlier calling for the TPB to consider the skyrocketing impost on public practitioners.
“Given that a well-functioning and regulated profession is critical to the tax system, and is therefore of benefit to the broader community, such an increase in funding should primarily come direct from the public purse,” he said.
“The primary function of the TPB is to regulate tax practitioners to protect consumers — it is therefore consumers that primarily benefit from the work of the TPB; and so, it is inappropriate for tax practitioners to be the main source of funding for the TPB.”
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.