Financial advisers should require more than one semester unit in tax law if they want to be licensed to provide tax advice, the Institute of Public Accountants (IPA) believes.
IPA chief executive, Andrew Conway, said the provision of tax advice was "inextricably connected with the provision of financial advice, and therefore establishing appropriate education requirements including relevant education in Australian tax law" was essential for advisers seeking to register with the Tax Practitioners Board.
Conway was critical of the TPB's proposal the financial advisers be required to complete a single tertiary level unit course in Australian tax law before being licensed to provide tax advice, under an Australian Financial Services Licence.
"Once a tax (financial) adviser is registered with the TPB, the adviser will be permitted to give tax advice covering any tax matter, provided it is in the course of providing financial advice," he said. "We therefore believe the duration of a course in Australian tax law should be of sufficient breadth to equip a tax (financial) adviser to adequately advise the public on tax issues.
"Simply put, the proposal of a one semester unit in tax law is inadequate unless the scope of advice is significantly restricted in line with the level of training."
"There needs to be a level playing field in the advice arena to ensure the public interest is being served. There is little difference in the scope of advice that a tax (financial) adviser can provide compared to a tax agent so we believe they should have a similar level of Australian tax knowledge as required by tax agents.