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IPA calls for tougher tax education for advisers

The IPA has labelled the educational requirements for tax financial advisers as inadequate, saying it is too easy for advisers to qualify as tax practitioners under the new Tax Agent Services Act regime.

News Michael Masterman 16 October 2014
— 1 minute read

In a submission to the Tax Practitioners Board (TPB), the IPA has stated that a one semester unit is an inadequate educational standard for the provision of tax advice.

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IPA chief executive officer, Andrew Conway said given the provision of tax advice is inextricably connected with the provision of financial advice, establishing appropriate education requirements including relevant education in Australian tax law is essential.

“Once a tax (financial) adviser is registered with the TPB, the adviser will be permitted to give tax advice covering any tax matter, provided it is in the course of providing financial advice. We therefore believe the duration of a course in Australian tax law should be of sufficient breadth to equip a tax (financial) adviser to adequately advise the public on tax issues,” he said.

“Simply put, the proposal of a one semester unit in tax law is inadequate unless the scope of advice is significantly restricted in line with the level of training.”

Mr Conway called for a level playing field in education across the advice space to ensure the best interest duty is being implemented and the public interest is being served.

“There is little difference in the scope of advice that a tax (financial) adviser can provide compared to a tax agent so we believe they should have a similar level of Australian tax knowledge as required by tax agents.”

“Once a financial planner registers with the TPB they will no longer be able to use the disclaimer that any tax advice provided as part of providing financial advice cannot be relied upon.”

“Put simply, financial planners will be accountable for any tax advice provided and can no longer hide behind the protection afforded by using the disclaimer.

“We are already concerned that financial planners who are able to register due to their professional association membership will not be required to satisfy any tax or commercial law education requirements. There should be a level playing field but there isn’t; in the new regime, accountants have to do their RG146 with no free kicks in education requirements,” said Mr Conway.

IPA calls for tougher tax education for advisers
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