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Government to begin to separate TPB from the ATO

The government will begin to implement a range of reforms to increase the independence of the TPB and reduce red tape for the tax profession, the Assistant Treasurer said on Friday.

Government to begin to separate TPB from the ATO
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  • Maja Garaca Djurdjevic
  • November 30, 2020
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The government has accepted 20 of the 28 recommendations made by the independent review of the TPB, led by tax stalwart Keith James, which looked at the effectiveness of the regulator and the Tax Agent Services Act 2009 to ensure tax agent services are provided to the public in accordance with appropriate professional and ethical standards.

Among the recommendations is the separation of the TPB from the ATO, whereby the TPB would receive its own funding directly from the government as opposed to the current funding allocation from the ATO’s budget. 

Commenting on this particular recommendation, Michael Sukkar said, "Each year around 17 million taxpayers use a tax agent to prepare their returns and an independent, robust and effective TPB is key to upholding confidence and standards in the tax profession."

To further separate the two agencies, the review has also recommended that the TPB chief executive become a statutory appointment rather than an ATO employee on secondment to the TPB. 

Responding to Mr Sukkar's statement, TPB chair Ian Klug said, "I am pleased that the announcement by the Assistant Treasurer today recognises the critical role of the TPB.

"These welcome reforms will strengthen the TPB’s position as an effective, independent regulator and will further protect consumers of tax practitioner services by improving the integrity of the tax practitioner profession.

"‘These changes also support whole of government approaches, reduce red tape, and increase collaboration with the Australian Taxation Office and other regulators."

Mr Sukkar noted that the government will undertake additional consultation prior to implementing some of the review's recommendations, allowing it to "further develop options, ensuring the best outcome for tax professionals and taxpayers who rely on their services".

Among the review's other recommendations are: 

  • Reduction in red tape, including streamlining the regulation of tax (financial) advisers and allowing the TPB to accept different types of experience as being relevant to a practitioner’s registration;
  • Ensuring education and experience requirements are set at the right level for tax practitioners to provide community confidence in the tax profession;
  • Bolstering eligibility requirements to ensure that only those individuals and entities that meet high standards of ethical and professional behaviour can obtain tax practitioner registration; and
  • Expanding information that currently appears on the TPB’s public register so that consumers of tax services can be even more informed and safeguarded.

"As certain reforms are implemented, the TPB will provide further information and guidance regarding these changes to assist tax practitioners and other stakeholders. We will also work with the Treasury and government to support consultation on the other measures proposed," Mr Klug noted.

Details of the legislative reforms and consultations announced by the government are available on the Treasury website.

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