No delays needed for TASA

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From 1 July, anyone that advises, lodges, or represents clients in relation to tax, will have to comply with the Tax Practitioners Board’s Tax Agent Services Act (TASA).

Up until now advisers have been exempt from the act, and the industry is still unsure what rules will apply come July. The FPA and AFA have both called for the implementation to be postponed due to this uncertainty.

“We’re calling on the Government to extend that implementation time frame for 12 months to enable adequate consultation and deliberation on how that may be implemented through the tax practitioners,” says FPA CEO Mark Rantall.

However, IPA senior tax adviser Tony Greco says there’s nothing stopping advisers from going forward and doing the required education ahead of the changes.

“They haven’t finalised what they’re required to do, which is unsatisfactory from the Government’s perspective, but there should be no delay – we can sort the detail out over time but we need to be thinking about the requirements of the advice they provide.” He says the generous transitional period means advisers do not have to go out straight away and obtain the minimum standards.

“All they’ve got to do is put up their hand and say ‘yes we want to come on board, and we understand that we will have to meet those minimum requirements over time’.”

Advisers will have to meet minimum educational and minimum experience requirements. Greco says this will include one unit of Australian tax law, but that might not be enough.

“If you look at what is required for someone to be a licensed tax agent it says you’ve got to have two units of tax law and three units of commercial law. The current draft, respective of financial planners, is one unit of tax law as the educational requirement. We think that’s not adequate given the wide ambit they have, respective of the provision of tax advice.”

He says that some planning groups already have the in-house expertise, and large firms may be well-positioned to deal with the new regime going forward. It is about protecting the consumer, and whoever provides tax advice should have to adhere to the same minimum standards, says Greco.

Will tax laws constantly changing and the tight fiscal restraints expected going forward, Greco says it is important that anyone dealing with tax understands the laws so that they can do right by their clients.

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