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Concern over compelling accountants to dob in peers

Mike Taylor17 November 2023
Hammer to crack a walnut

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.

Mike Taylor

Mike Taylor

Managing Editor/Publisher, Financial Newswire

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3 months ago

“sidelining the key professionals representing the tax and accounting profession”.

They are taking a leaf out of the destroy financial planners book. They did the same thing there.

This reporting obligation is Std 12 in code of ethics and looks to be the same as Acctg proposals. Std 3 states if there is a conflict of interest then ‘you shall not act’. NO professional can operate under this Std as it’s completely unworkable. Bill by the hour and you reward laziness and inefficiency (lawyers accts), come back for your clear medical result (doctors).

These idiots and morons who never advised one day in their life have to be removed from the system or made a minority of the decision process at the very least.

To all accountants, fight it hard before it’s too late.

Planners have a code of ethics whereby it’s not possible to comply 100% with.

2 months ago
Reply to  Wildcat

“Lack any protections”. This just going to clog up courts with plethora of defamation cases.

Des Nutmeg
3 months ago

The real story behind this is that the PwC scandal, provides the impetus for the Parliament to throw out due process, despite the objection of the accounting bodies and others that represent literally hundreds of thousands of professional people. This very much reminds me of the aftermath of the Hayne Royal Commission, where the thoughts of one man needed to be implemented at the speed of light and nothing else mattered. You need to be worried when, despite the Bill having been subject to a Senate Committee Inquiry and having been in the Parliament for nine months, at the very last minute the Greens can drop in very substantial but unrelated amendments, argued in large part on the basis of responding to the PwC scandal and then despite absolutely no consultation or even consideration of the implications, the Government jumps on board and it becomes law in a matter of days.

This Bill included other things, such as changes to franking credits and provisions to allow the registration of financial advisers. It sat around for months in the Senate, because the Government could not get the support to pass the franking credits part. A deal was obviously done to deliver the franking credit changes in return for throwing out due process and making these material changes to tax practitioners. When people ask why the financial advice profession could not achieve a better result with what happened with the Hayne Royal Commission recommendations, you only need to look at this matter to understand how difficult it is to overcome momentum as significant as a Royal Commission like Hayne or a major scandal like PwC. There are lessons in this for all of us.

How to do you spell profession?
3 months ago

There’s an irony to a “profession” who laud their importance and professionalism not wanting to dob in others when they see them doing the wrong thing.

3 months ago

Accountants have done something very well for a very long time, and that’s deflecting the blame to other parties. It’s a code of not dobbing in your peers. If you provide poor Advice resulting in a client paying too much tax it’s never the fault of the Accountant….. it’s “the tax office” …If another peer provided poor tax advice “it’s the tax office”

3 months ago
Reply to  bemused

Or, an accountant that sets up 300 SMSFs when unlicensed, “its the tax office, ohh I mean the client (who has zero financial literacy) instructed me to set them up.”

Cash is Kin.........grrrr
3 months ago
Reply to  XTA

amazing how many clients are apparently happy to pay a $3000 per annum fee for acct’s and audit from their 100% invested in cash portfolio’s…

Davey NoFurries
3 months ago

and not forgetting the 1,000’s of SMSF’s that have their Accountant “offer’ unlicensed share advice.

2 months ago

If the Greens get any more power we are going to have to forget climate change and instead spend the billions on new jails because EVERYTHING is illegal in their world.