Tax Agent Services Act 2009 (Cth) (TAS Act) came into effect on 1 March 2010 and required that all tax agents and BAS agents were registered and regulated. The TAS Act aims to ensure the services provided to the public by registered tax agents and BAS agents are of appropriate ethical and professional standards in order to protect consumers. The TAS Act requires that any person providing tax agent services (including giving tax advice) is required to register as a tax agent and meet the strict standards of professional and ethical conduct. There are strict educational requirements in order to be registered as a tax agent, and ongoing professional development standards.
Many financial planners wish to give tax advice to their clients as part of their services, but often do not have the level of education and experience in tax matters as required by the Tax Agent Services regime. Financial planners were initially exempted from the application of the Tax Agent Services regime. However, the Ta x Agent Services Amendment (Tax (Financial) Advisers) Regulation 2014 (Cth) was recently registered to bring financial planners within the Tax Agent Services regime administered by the Tax Practitioners Board. The Regulation does this by prescribing a tailored set of ongoing registration requirements for tax (financial) advisers, and listing tax (financial) advisers on the register of registered entities and tax practitioners.
The Regulation allows financial planners who provide tax (financial) advice services to register with the TPB with different qualification and experience requirements to tax agents. The Regulation recognises that tax (financial) advisers provide a subset of the services provided by tax agents. For example, tax (financial) advisers may not make representations to the Commissioner. The qualification and experience requirements have been tailored to reflect the different nature of the service offered, when compared to tax agents. However, many Tax Agents are concerned that the educational and ongoing professional development standards for financial planners are not sufficiently stringent to ensure the protection of consumers.
Financial advisers will continue to be licensed (or authorised under an Australian financial services licensee) by ASIC and adviser obligations under the Corporations Act remain unchanged. You can read more on the ASIC website.