Date posted: 13/08/2020

Submission on draft Legislative Instruments re Board approved courses

Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand (CA ANZ) has provided our comments to the Tax Practitioners Board (TPB) on the draft Legislative Instruments (LIs) in relation to Board approved courses.

In brief

  • We do not support the proposal to legislate the TPB’s proposed guidelines on academic requirements at this time.
  • The draft LIs are not aligned with CA ANZ’s academic requirements, and would embed static rules that need to evolve.
  • The TPB should accredit the professional accounting bodies and recognise professional accounting qualifications.

Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand (CA ANZ) lodged a submission to the Tax Practitioners Board (TPB) on the draft Legislative Instruments (LIs) in relation to Board approved courses, released for public consultation on 1 July 2020.  The draft LIs seek to legislate the requirements set out in existing proposed guidelines and information sheets, which  include:

  • Course in commercial law approved by the Board
  • Information regarding the assessment aspect and requirements of an approved course in basic GST/BAS taxation principles 
  • BAS agent educational qualification requirements.  

Summary of views  

CA ANZ does not support the proposal to formally legislate the TPB’s proposed guidelines on the above academic requirements at this time as:  

(i) the proposed guidelines are not aligned with the academic requirements of CA ANZ in several material respects, which is an unintended outcome of the TPB’s views; and secondly 

(ii) in any event, the prescriptive nature and content of the academic requirements in the draft LI would embed static rules with legislative force which will create unintended outcomes, as educational standards and methods are continually evolving and will require regular updates to the LIs to keep them current. 

Fundamentally, as a matter of public policy, CA ANZ believes it is unlikely that the educational prerequisites for the provision of taxation services to the public were intended to be higher than, or materially different to, the stringent requirements of the major professional accounting bodies.     

Taxation services are one of the three core professional services provided by professional accountants (together with accounting and audit/assurance services).  In turn, professional accountants are a core component of the Australian tax system, without whom the tax system could not function, and without whom it almost certainly would not operate in a healthy, efficient, professional, ethical, robust and resilient manner.  

The bottom line is that there should not be an academic gap for professional accountants in the field of taxation. There should be alignment and convergence between the ‘entry level’ academic requirements for a registered tax agent / BAS agent and those required for a professional accountant to be certified by their professional body to engage in professional practice. 

We urge the TPB to recognise the professional qualifications held by members of CA ANZ and other professional accounting bodies, and this could be done by a simple Legislative Instrument which accredits the professional accounting bodies for the purpose of recognising professional accounting qualifications, in accordance with the existing trusted accreditation schemes that are in place for the accounting profession in Australia. 

In our submission, we explain in greater detail why the TPB should integrate the existing national accreditation scheme into its accreditation/course approval process.  Firstly the “professional accounting bodies” are themselves recognised by Commonwealth law as responsible for the professional standards and regulation of the accounting profession, and secondly, those bodies (eg CA ANZ and CPAA jointly) administer the professional accreditation of accounting degree programs to ensure their content and graduate learning outcomes meet the current needs of the profession.

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