Are you a finance and business savvy person looking forward to becoming a registered tax agent? Do you have the necessary qualifications and skills to solve the tax obligations of people? If yes, then this article is meant for you.
A Registered Tax Agent is a specialized professional who has an in-depth knowledge of tax. He is a qualified, skilled, and responsible professional who follows a stringent code of conduct.
In Australia, a tax agent must register with the Tax Practitioners Board to offer paid tax services to its clients. You need to complete certain courses that equip you with the necessary skills to fulfil the educational qualifications to be a Registered Tax Agent.
The following article provides you with all the necessary information on how to become a tax agent in Australia.
1. Who Is A Tax Agent?
A tax agent is one of the important mediators in the entire tax system.
He is fully aware of the ethical professional standards and uses the right tools to provide reliable tax advice to their clients.
2. What Does A Tax Agent Do?
A good tax agent looks after all the tax affairs of its clients so that they can focus on their priorities.
Through his valuable services and advice, he ensures that his clients pay the right tax amount at the right time. He also makes their clients aware of their grants and reliefs.
A tax agent reassures its customers that their tax affairs are fully compliant. Due to these benefits, a lot of people in Australia prefer to take the services of a tax agent.
3. How Does A Tax Agent Differ From A Tax Accountant?
A tax agent is specialized tax personnel who is licensed and registered with the Tax Practitioners Board to make claims. He is most suited in companies, businesses, and working with trusts to tax time return compliance. They will analyze your income and expenses to arrive at the right tax amount payable to the government.
A tax accountant is a registered tax professional who helps his clients form better financial decisions. He would suggest the right type of business such as a sole trader or incorporation and the right strategy for financial growth.
In addition to tax planning, they also work as a business adviser to help their clients plan their business requirements efficiently. He makes his clients aware of the consequences of any decision they make in their business.
4. Skills To Become A Tax Agent
There is a specific skill set that employers look for in a tax agent. Let us know what they are:
Filing of tax returns
Tax agents are professionals who have specialized knowledge in tax. Find a tax agent who is well-versed in preparing tax returns for their clients and submit them to IRS for finalization.
He should be experienced in preparing tax returns for individuals, firms, businesses, partnerships, and CPAs by examining financial statements and client documentation.
A tax agent should assist his existing and potential customers by resolving their tax-related issues and offering trusted advice. Good customer service will help strengthen relationships with clients and bring more business in the future.
Another important skill of a tax agent is to ensure that all his services are compliant with state decrees and internal protocols.
Personal skills include:
Training institution like TafeSA offers a tax agent course Tafe that effectively meets the Australian Tax Practitioners Board registration requirements for a tax agent that requires board-approved courses. This online course helps tax agent improve their skills and advance in their career.
5. What Are The Regulations For Tax Agents?
According to The Tax Agent Services Act 2009, a tax agent can provide a ‘tax agent service’ only when he is registered. This service relates to determining or directing an entity of its accountabilities, duties, or privileges under a taxation law.
A legal practitioner is not allowed to formulate or file tax returns except in cases wherein he is the legal personal representative or a trustee of a deceased estate. A legal practitioner must register as a tax agent to provide tax compliance services.
Severe civil penalties are applicable when an unregistered entity offers a tax agent service to any client. The maximum penalty levied for such a violation is $262,500 for a company and $52,500 for individuals.
6. What Are The Advantages Of Becoming A Registered Tax Agent?
When a tax agent registers with the Tax Practitioners Board, he avails the following benefits.
He gains the qualifications and experience to offer tax agent services
He fulfills the 'fit and proper’ criteria as laid down by the TPB
He has adequate professional indemnity insurance cover for safeguarding its consumers
He may not be accountable to a few administrative penalties levied in specific cases
7. What Is A Tax Agent Services Regime?
The tax agent services administration controls the registration of separate categories of tax practitioners. These include tax agents, tax advisers, and BAS agents.
A registered tax agent is a legal entity that provides a tax agent service. This service comprises advisory and compliance services concerning a taxation law managed by the Commissioner of Taxation.
Most registered tax agents offer a combination of advisory, representative, and compliance services to their clients. The Tax Agent Services Act 2009 (TASA) is the legislation that governs tax practitioners in Australia.
The act also prescribes the practical work experience, academic qualifications, and requirements for an individual to become a registered tax agent, tax adviser, and BAS agent.
8. Important Features Of The Tax Agent Services Regime
A tax agent services regime comprises the following elements:
A national Tax Practitioners Board that controls the registration of tax agents, tax advisers, and BAS agents
A constituted Code of Professional Conduct that administers the personal and professional conduct of tax agents, tax advisers, and BAS agents. If any of these entities are found to violate the code of conduct, then they may be subjected to a broad range of disciplinary sanctions
A broad array of civil penalties may be levied on unregistered entities that offer fee-based or reward-based services
A safe harbor is in place to protect taxpayers from organizational penalties on account of tax shortfall due to the acts of a registered agent
Visit the TPB website to know more details regarding the functioning of the tax agent services regime.
9. Who Can Become A Registered Tax Agent?
Under the TASA, if you are a sole practitioner, a company, or a partnership, then you can register as a tax agent.
Any individual or a company, operating as a trustee, can register as a tax agent
Association of trustees of unrestricted trusts can also register themselves as tax agent under the regime.
10. What Are The Eligibility Requirements To Become A Registered Tax Agent?
Let us look at the registration requirements of each entity one by one.
An individual should be a minimum of 18 years of age to register with the TPB.
He should have exhibited a good code of conduct, fame, character, and integrity.
He is not an undischarged bankrupt.
He should not have been charged with a grave taxation offense, or dishonesty.
He should not have been reprimanded for promoting a tax exploitation scheme
He should meet the prescribed academic eligibility requirements and tax agent work experience.
He has/maintain a professional level indemnity insurance of between $250000 to 1 million worth.
The Tax Agent Program enables an entity to satisfy the above-listed requirements to register as a tax agent. Based on your qualifications, you may require completing a TPB-approved course in Commercial Law or Australian Tax Law.
Click here to register as an individual tax agent on the TPB website.
A partnership can register as a tax agent if it meets the following conditions:
Each partner is -at least 18 years of age.
Each partner is a fit and proper person as per TPB guidelines
Each company in this partnership must not be convicted of a grave taxation offense or involved in fraud or dishonesty in the past five years.
The partnership comprises an adequate number of registered tax agents who offer reliable tax agent services and perform supervisory arrangements
The partnership maintains the required professional indemnity insurance
A company can apply for registration as a tax agent on following the below conditions:
The director of the company has to be at least 18 years of age
He should be a fit and proper individual
The company must not have been imprisoned or convicted in a case of fraud in the last five years
The company has an adequate number of registered tax agents who can offer industry-standard tax agent services and perform supervisory arrangements
The company maintains professional indemnity insurance as per the requirements of TPB.
A corporate or an individual trustee can register as a tax agent, but the trust is disallowed to apply for registration. The eligibility criteria applicable for individual trustees and corporate functioning in the capacity of a trustee are like that of registration requirements of a sole practitioner and companies respectively.
Partnership Of Open/Unrestricted Trusts
The TASA allows a partnership of open/unrestricted trusts to register as a tax agent regardless of whether the trustees are individuals, firms, or a combination of individuals or firms as long as all the criteria for an enterprise to register as a tax agent are met.
Refer to Tax Agent Services Regulations 2009 to know more about the details of the specific requirements regarding academic credentials and work experience of an applicant.
11. Potential Pathways To Become A Registered Tax Agent
The Tax Agent Services Regulations 2009 comprises the rules related to the required qualifications and work experience to become a registered tax agent in Australia.
In 2021, an entity needs to have a mix of primary qualifications, TPB-approved courses, and relevant experience.
The type of board-approved course and work experience needed depends on your primary qualification.
Here is a tax agent pathway review for an individual applicant, partnership, company, trust, and partnership of discretionary trusts.
Tertiary qualifications in Accountancy (201)
Should have an accounting degree or a postgraduate award from a tertiary institution of Australia
Should have completed TPB approved tax agent courses such as a TPB approved commercial law course and TPB approved taxation law course
Should have a year of full-time pertinent experience in the previous five years
Tertiary qualifications in another discipline (202)
Should hold a degree or postgraduate award from a tertiary institution of Australia
May require completing a TPB approved course in fundamental accountancy principles, a TPB approved taxation law course, and a TPB approved commercial law course
Should have gained one year of full-time pertinent work experience in the previous five years
Diploma or higher award in accountancy (203)
Should hold a diploma in accountancy or higher award from an accredited training organization
Should have completed a TPB official taxation law course and a TPB approved commercial law course
Should have gained two years of pertinent full-time experience in the previous five years
Tertiary qualification in law (204)
Should have academic qualifications to be a legal practitioner in Australia
Should have completed an Australian taxation law course and a fundamental accountancy principles course
Should have gained one year of pertinent full-time experience in the previous five years
Work Experience (205)
In this category, there is no primary qualification required. However, an applicant must complete TPB approved courses such as:
An Australian taxation law course
A fundamental accountancy principles course, and
A TPB approved commercial law course
Also, he should have gained eight years of pertinent full-time experience in the past ten years
Membership of A Professional Association (206)
Should be a voting member of a recognized tax agent association
There is no requirement of any of the TPB approved courses
Should have gained eight years of pertinent full-time experience in the previous ten years
12. How To Apply For The Tax Agent Registration?
Entities can apply for registration online. You need to get a few documents handy before performing this process.
Soft copy of qualifications, course outlines, and transcripts.
Statement of relevant experience from a current or past employer.
Your tax agent association membership details
Identity documents issued by the Australian Government such as driving license, passport, Medicare card to verify your identity
A tax agent profession can play a vital role in offering a valuable experience for taxpayers. This field is varied, challenging, and suits graduate from all types of disciplines.
If you possess the skills, and, qualifications, that make you fit for this role, take a step forward and enroll for a registration today.
What is the exception for tax agents registered pre-1988?
If you were already registered as a tax agent before 1 November 1988 and 1 March 2010, then you need not fulfill the experience and qualifications requirements for registering as a tax agent.
What are the “Conditions of registration” concerning tax agents?
A condition on the registration of a tax agent is applied when all the criteria for registration aren’t met. In this case, the tax agent can provide a limited set of services. In other words, his services may apply to a specific area of taxation law where he lacks relevant experience and qualifications.
Click here to know more about imposing conditions on a registration.
How to confirm that a tax agent is registered?
If you want to check whether a tax agent is registered, you need to click on the below links:
Search for the name of the tax agent in the TPB Register
Look for the Registered tax practitioner symbol
What does it mean by ‘relevant experience’?
Relevant experience implies hands-on work experience in a type of business that offers tax agent services. Once the work experience is stated in the application, it is verified by the supervisor via a Statement of relevant experience (SRE) form.
How much time does it take to process the registration request?
Ideally, it takes around thirty days for the application to get processed. The maximum approval period for registration is 3 years.
A candidate should duly fill and send an application form for re-registration before thirty days of the expiration of the registration period.
To prevent the rejection of the application, an applicant should fulfill the registration requirements/ eligibility criteria for registration or re-registration each time.
How much does a tax agent earn in Australia?
The average base tax agent salary is $73,691 per year in Australia.
Why Is It Important For A Tax Agent To Register With The TPB?
According to the tax laws, if a tax professional offers paid tax agent services without being registered with the Tax Practitioners Board, then he can incur severe penalties by the Australian Taxation Office.
An unregistered tax agent is not allowed to offer a fee or reward-based services to anyone. He is also not permitted to represent himself as a registered tax agent and advertises tax agent services.
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