The TPB recently released an exposure draft providing new guidance for tax practitioners on outsourcing and offshoring, alerting tax and BAS agents to the compliance action they could face if these arrangements aren’t appropriately structured.
Chair of the TPB, Ian Taylor, said the TPB is aware of emails being circulated to tax and BAS agents from offshore providers, offering low-cost services for compliance-based work, including some bookkeeping services.
“We do know that there have been a lot of unsolicited emails to practitioners from offshore. For example, there have been emails from allegedly trusted sources in India, providing BAS services to Australian clients at $8 per hour,” Mr Taylor told Accountants Daily.
“The question is does that sort of offer become a temptation to a small practitioner who is struggling and needs assistance,” he said.
Professionals also need to be “very clear” in their understanding of liability when engaging with outsourced firms, Mr Taylor said.
“We don’t have a difficulty with anyone outsourcing or offshoring, providing the client knows about it and provided that they know at the end of the day they are the ones that are responsible in terms of the competence of the service their entity provides,” Mr Taylor said.
“They can’t be removed of their responsibility to provide a competent service because they contracted an outside firm,” he said.
Mr Taylor stressed that the TPB’s guidance is not a consequence of widespread issues in the practice of outsourcing.
“No one out there in the current environment knows everything about everything, which is where outsourcing can come in,” Mr Taylor said. “You can’t be an expert on everything.”
Mr Taylor will be speaking on this issue, and more, at the Institute of Public Accountants' National Congress in November.