In a surprise budget move, the government has announced that the TPB will be provided $20.1 million over four years from 2018-19 to help assist the board meet its broadened responsibilities to ensure that tax agent services are provided to the public in accordance with appropriate professional and ethical standards.
The government noted that the measure will be funded by an increase in tax practitioner registration fees.
According to the TPB, the increase in application fees, payable at least once every three years, will see tax agent registration rise to $675, while tax (financial) advisers will pay $540, and $135 for BAS agents, from 1 July 2018.
The proposed application fee increases will also be subject to an annual consumer price index adjustment from 2019-20 onwards.
“The additional funding will ensure that the TPB is able to continue to meet its legislative responsibilities and protect consumers of tax services by registering and regulating nearly 80,000 tax agents, business activity statement agents and tax financial advisers in Australia,” said TPB chair Ian Taylor in a statement.
The Tax Institute’s senior tax counsel Professor Robert Deutsch said the measure was surprising considering how the government would not be bearing the additional costs.
"That's not coming from the government coffers, it is going to be more enforcement but the funding is going to come from registration fees from practitioners,” said Professor Deutsch.
The rise in registration fees follows ATO commissioner Chris Jordan’s public comments earlier this year questioning if tax agents should continue to be considered “guardians of the system” after the ATO found that incorrect claiming on tax returns was more common in agent-prepared returns than in self-prepared returns.
“These results are really disappointing. For years I’ve heard how tax agents were guardians of the system – these random enquiry results tell me this is not the case for some agents,” said Mr Jordan in March.
“They are not fulfilling their duty as a registered tax practitioner in line with the Tax Practitioners Code of Conduct.”