Concern over compelling accountants to dob in peers
Accountants and BAS agents will be compelled to dob in peers they believe have committed breaches of the Code of Professional Conduct under the Tax Agent Services Act, according to the Tax Institute.
Objecting strongly to Greens-generated Senate legislative amendments, the Tax Institute said that the changes had been made to the Treasury Laws Amendment bill without the usual consultation processes and by “sidelining the key professionals representing the tax and accounting profession”.
Citing the umbrella of the Joint Associations Working Group, the Tax Institute said the amendments would change the appointment process of members of the Tax Practitioners Board (TPB) and “require registered tax agents and BAS agents to notify the TPB of other agents they ‘reasonably believe’ have committed a significant breach of the Code of Professional Conduct in the Tax Agent Services Act 2009 (TASA)”.
“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,” the statement said.
The statement said that while the Joint Bodies agreed with the policy intention of enhancing community confidence in the tax profession, they had serious concerns about the legislative amendments which had been generated by the Greens in the Senate.
Matthew Addison, Co-Chair of the TPB’s Tax Practitioner Governance and Standards Forum (TPGSF), said on behalf of the Joint Bodies, ‘The original amendments in Schedule 3 to the Bill are intended to improve the effectiveness and independence of the TPB, enhance community confidence, and support high standards in the tax profession while streamlining the regulation of tax practitioners.’
‘While the Government consulted widely on the original proposed amendments earlier this year, there has been no consultation with stakeholders on the Greens’ latest amendments, nor has an accompanying explanatory memorandum been provided to give further guidance on the changes.’
‘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 which are currently in exposure draft form.’
The Joint Bodies’ stance is that consultation should be undertaken for all significant changes to the law. Poor tax law design and lack of consultation can often lead to poor or unintended outcomes for everyone involved, which is why the usual process of parliamentary consultation is in place and 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.