A discussion paper leading the independent review of the Tax Practitioners Board has now been released by independent review chair Keith James, canvassing a wide range of issues affecting the TPB since its establishment.
One of the key issues addressed in the discussion paper includes the current registration framework, which the TPB acknowledges as working “well generally”, but believes should be amended to reflect “contemporary practices”.
As such, it suggests a lift in educational requirements for tax and BAS agents to better align with existing government approaches to lifting professional standards.
The discussion paper is considering whether the primary educational qualification for a tax agent should be increased to a degree-level qualification, while BAS agents should be required to have a diploma-level qualification.
Tax agents can currently register via a number of entry pathways, including a primary diploma qualification or through membership of a professional association.
BAS agents currently require at least a Certificate IV in Financial Services in bookkeeping or accounting, or membership of a professional association.
The TPB quotes the Financial Adviser Standards and Ethics Authority’s (FASEA) approach of requiring new and existing financial advisers to have an approved bachelor’s degree qualification as an example of higher education standards.
FASEA’s new requirements include a FASEA approved degree, completion of a Financial Adviser Exam and 40 hours of continuing professional development.
The paper also questions the appropriateness of individuals becoming registered through their voting membership with a TPB recognised professional association, once again noting the lifting of standards in the financial adviser profession.
In addition to the registration requirements, the paper is also considering whether the current three-year period of registration should be converted to an annual registration.
“There is no discernible policy basis for this three-year period, and the TPB suggests that in the interests of the tax practitioners, the TPB and government, it would be beneficial if the registration period was converted to an annual basis,” the discussion paper noted.
“This approach would align with most other requirements affecting tax practitioners, including professional indemnity insurance and association membership. This annual registration would replace the current TPB administrative ‘Annual Declaration’ process.”
All parties with an interest in the review are urged to make a submission on the discussion paper, found on the Treasury’s website.
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.