Greens’ amendments to a bill in the Senate have been given the thumbs-up by the government.
Partners at big firms to be banned from TPB
Partners from large accounting firms will be banned from sitting on the TPB after the government agreed to a bill amendment proposed by the Greens.
The Greens amendment will mean current or previous partners still receiving payments from firms with more than 100 employees will be ineligible to join the regulator.
Greens Senator Barbara Pocock, a key critic in the aftermath of the PwC tax secrets scandal, said the move would prevent regulators from having direct vested interests in entities they oversee.
“This is a straightforward and much-needed change which will strengthen the impartiality of the TPB and its ability to regulate tax agents, without any perceived or actual conflicts of interest,” she said.
It would “fix the loophole that allows big consultants to regulate themselves”.
“The remaining former PwC partner on the TPB will not be able to be reappointed.”
“We will have members of the TPB who are not financially tied to those same large tax agents they are regulating.”
The amendment also requires tax agents to report breaches of the Code of Professional Conduct to the TPB and report if another tax agent has breached the code.
“This is an important amendment to prevent partners protecting other partners and turning a blind eye to unethical behaviour,” said Ms Pocock.
“It widens the responsibility for unethical behaviour from the individual to others that are aware of their behaviour.”
Ms Pocock added the changes went towards addressing the unethical behaviour exposed in the PwC tax scandal and urged the government to pass the bill quickly.
“The scale of the consulting scandal needs to be met with a commensurate scale of reform. The outrage of the Australian community deserves to be met with an ambitious response,” she said.
“We need to make sure that the unethical behaviour of big consultancies assisting multinational firms to avoid tax, and the extraordinary farming of the public dollar to line their pockets, cannot be allowed to continue. We must rebuild the public sector and put the interest of the public at the core of public spending.”
The changes are contained in the Treasury Laws Amendment (2023 Measures No. 1) Bill 2023, which is currently before the Senate. It also implements recommendations from the TPB review and introduces changes to the income tax treatment of off-market share buybacks by listed public companies.
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