In announcing its corporate plan for the year ahead, the TPB will look to act on a key objective of enhancing the integrity of the registered tax practitioner profession by focusing on those who fail to model professional and ethical conduct.
It will now adopt a compliance approach to target unregistered agents and the highest risk practitioners, with TPB chair Ian Klug expecting 1,000 investigations to be completed as part of the process.
In identifying these high-risk agents, the TPB will look to rely on intelligence from co-regulators, including the ATO.
“Some of this tax mischief is driven by high-risk tax practitioners,” the TPB said in its corporate plan.
“The community views the tax profession with a high level of trust. We are aware that, in the majority, practitioners do their utmost to earn this trust.
“As stewards of this trust, we make sure that those who do not meet society’s expectations are appropriately managed.”
Mr Klug added: “Sanctions, such as suspensions and terminations, will be imposed after review and decision by our independent board — supporting community confidence in the integrity of the system and providing a deterrent to misconduct.”
However, it remains to be seen how the TPB will address the issue of unregistered practitioners.
In the discussion paper of the independent review of the TPB, the regulator admitted that its regulation of unregistered practitioners has been limited.
It noted that the only compliance action available to the TPB to deal with unregistered tax practitioner behaviour is to apply to the Federal Court — a time-consuming and costly process.
While the independent review has now been completed and presented to the government, it has yet to be publicly released, leading the TPB to acknowledge that it is currently operating in a period of uncertainty as it waits on the outcome of the review.
Recommendations from the review could include new sanctions and tools for the TPB to better police unregistered practitioners.
“We are aware that change could be on the horizon, though the level and extent of the change is unclear,” the TPB said.
“In the meantime, we continue to focus on our core business as a regulator and the needs of our clients and the community.”
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.