Major accountancy group CPA Australia has called for the Tax Practitioners’ Board (TPB) to be given greater powers to sanction tax agents including banning orders.
In a submission filed as part of the Federal Treasury’s Review of the TPB, CPA Australia had also acknowledged the changing nature of what falls under the jurisdiction of the TPB including financial advisers, noting that professional standards need to strike a balance between those agents who provide relatively simple services and those providing services for corporations or financial planners for high wealth individuals.
However, it was on the question of TPB sanction powers that the CPA Australia submission is most forceful noting that in the past two years, only 41 agents have been terminated and three suspended out of 3,000 complaints.
“As a consumer protection agency, the TPB should be provided with greater ability to sanction agents who have been reported to them, especially if independent complaints are made on an ongoing basis related to a single practice or agent,” it said.
“Further, the TPB’s administrative sanctions do not include pecuniary penalties. This removes the ability of the TPB to influence agent behaviours through the imposition of fines. The Tax Agent Services Act 2009 (TASA) civil penalty and injunction provisions are, in the main, focused on conduct prohibited without TPB registration,” the submission said.
CPA Australia noted that, since its inception in 2009, the TPB had brought 13 cases before the Federal Court and been the respondent in 21 other cases claiming such cases were costly and in the main dealt with unregistered individuals operating outside of the regulatory environment.
“CPA Australia supports the consideration a broad range of interactions, interventions and disciplinary actions including preventative approaches such as visiting high-risk agents or banning orders preventing a sanctioned individual from working with or for a tax practitioner,” it said.
The submission said increased referrals from the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) were a positive step and the pathway should be further developed.