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Qualification as a registered tax agent

ICAEW is approved as a Recognised Tax Agent Association by the Australian Tax Practitioners Board (TPB).

Under the Tax Agent Services Act 2009 (the Act), Tax and Business Activity Statement (BAS) agents must be registered with the TPB if they wish to provide tax agent or BAS services for a fee or other reward in Australia. “Tax agent services” and “BAS services” are defined at https://www.tpb.gov.au/tax-agent-services and https://www.tpb.gov.au/bas-services.

A registered tax agent can offer both tax agent and BAS services. A registered BAS agent may offer only BAS services.

ICAEW members offering contract accounting services (e.g. ascertaining BAS liabilities and related advice) for a fee should be aware that they could be required to register as a BAS agent.

ICAEW members in Australia applying to the TPB to be a registered tax agent are required by the TPB to meet specific CPD and PII cover requirements in order to qualify and to maintain registration as a tax agent.

Australian Tax Practitioners Board (TPB) registration

As part of the tax agent registration, a number of criteria have to be met. There are six options for registration based on applicants’ qualifications and experience. The options, items 201 to 206, are summarised at https://www.tpb.gov.au/qualifications-and-experience-tax-agents

The process for registering is the same for an ICAEW member as for a CA ANZ member so joining CA ANZ will not simplify the process. 

ICAEW members with 8 years’ relevant tax experience in the past 10 years may apply under item 206 (Membership of a Recognised Tax Agent Association). The TPB has advised that relevant tax experience may include tax experience obtained by members in legislative regimes similar to Australia (such as UK) in combination with experience of Australian taxation. This route is advantageous as no further education courses are necessary. Evidence of ICAEW membership will be required. 

ICAEW members without 8 years’ experience may apply under item 201 (tertiary qualifications in accountancy). To apply under item 201, you need:

  • one year’s relevant tax experience in the past 5 years (tax experience obtained by members in legislative regimes similar to Australia in combination with experience of Australian taxation may be recognised);
  • board approved courses in Australian taxation law;
  • board approved courses in commercial law; and
  • an equivalence certificate from NOOSR.

Providers of the tax and law courses, including online courses, can be found at: 

https://www.tpb.gov.au/qualifications-and-experience-tax-agents

For further information on the application process email grace.chamberlain@icaew.com

TPB’s approval of ICAEW as a Recognised Tax Agent Association draws attention to two specific ongoing obligations for ICAEW members in Australia who are tax agents. These are CPD requirements and professional indemnity insurance (PII). 

CPD

Item 203(a) in Schedule 1 to the Tax Agent Services Regulations 2009 (TASR) concerns the requirement that members undertake an appropriate number of hours of continuing professional education (CPE) each year relevant to the circumstances and requirements of the members. The TPB notes the importance of keeping up to date with Australian taxation law, observing that ICAEW members who wish to be registered with the TPB will need to meet the TPB’s CPE requirements.

Although the TPB has acknowledged ICAEW’s assurances around our outputs-based approach to CPD, it still requires any ICAEW member registered as a tax or BAS agent to maintain records in such a way that they can demonstrate that they meet the TPB’s inputs-based 'appropriate number of hours' requirements.

The TPB’s policy requires tax agents to complete a minimum of 90 hours of CPE within a standard three-year registration period, with a minimum of 10 hours each year. For more details see The TPB’s CPE policy for members practising in Australia

PII

Item 203(e) in Schedule 1 to the TASR requires a member who is permitted by an organisation to be in public practice to have PII.

The TPB also requires ICAEW members who wish to be registered tax agents in Australia to meet the criteria set out within the TPB’s specific PII requirements.

Updated by Clare Bewsher, ICAEW Council Member for Australasia
5 March 2018