Industry urges consultation before legal amendments destined to usher in mandatory reporting and changes to the TPB.
Furious CPA Australia decries ‘punishment of the many’
A furious CPA Australia says the government is “punishing good professionals” for the sins of a few and the industry has pressed for urgent consultation before the Greens’ amendments to the Tax Agent Services Act 2008 become law.
Eight professional bodies have lobbied Assistant Treasurer Stephen Jones over the changes, which were tabled by the Greens and won support yesterday from the government.
But in a strongly worded statement, the bodies said “consultation should be undertaken for all significant changes to the law” and warned of “poor or unintended outcomes” in its absence.
“Serious concerns remain that the amendments in their current form may have devastating impacts for any tax practitioner falsely accused of misconduct,” they said.
“Unlike other laws, including the Corporations Act 2001, these amendments lack any protections usually afforded to those who are the subject of false or unfounded allegations, or for claims for lost revenues against someone who made an allegation.”
One insider said feelings were running strong over the amendments, which require mandatory reporting of code of conduct breaches and the banning of current and former partners at big firms from the TPB.
CPA Australia, one of the eight bodies that bemoaned the “sidelining” of key professional associations”, issued a separate statement damning the amendments for punishing “good professionals”.
Head of policy and advocacy Elinor Kasapidis said the amendments were “short-sighted”, “impractical” and “hugely problematic”.
“Dedicated professionals who abide by the law should not be subjected to additional regulatory pressures because of the actions of a few,” she said.
“Measures such as mandatory reporting need to operate effectively in practice and not contravene rights against self-incrimination. Without proper consultation and alignment with existing rules, uncertainty and regulatory overreach can result in detrimental outcomes.”
“In addition, banning individuals from sitting on the TPB because of their links to firms with more than 100 employees is short-sighted and discriminatory. This goes beyond punishing those working in the big end of town.”
“Appointments to the board should always be merit based. Experienced and knowledgeable people who could be an asset to the sector will now have a black mark against their name due to no fault of their own. This is wholly unfair and will prove counterproductive.”
“Given the wholesale impact of these amendments, we have significant concerns about the cost of compliance, the ability of members to provide advice, and the quality of the TPB.”
The co-chair of the TPB’s Tax Practitioner Governance and Standards Forum, Matthew Addison, speaking for all the professional bodies said amendments to law “must consider all impacts” and consultation was now vital.
“We strongly suggest that targeted consultation with key stakeholders be immediately undertaken to ensure the provisions operate as intended, and include any resulting changes as part of the second tranche of legislative changes to the TASA [Tax Agent Services Act] which are currently in exposure draft form,” he said.
The joint bodies said the usual process of parliamentary consultation “should have been followed in this case”.
“Any amendments to the law must consider all impacts and become good law, based on sound and considered policy.”
The joint statement was signed by CPA Australia, CA ANZ, the IPA, the Tax Institute, the Australian Bookkeepers Association, the Institute of Certified Bookkeepers, the Financial Advice Association of Australia and the SMSF Association.
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