I agree that unsuitable people should not be tax agents. But any suggestion of following the Australian system requiring membership of a body such as accountants is unnecessary. Simple tax affairs do not require an accounting qualification and this does defeat the purpose of having simple administration outsourced to appropriate but not accounting qualified people. I would have no issue with a simple test being applied about comprehension of basic tax types and requirements. Knowing your limits is important in running an administrative business. That is why I retain the services of an accountant advisor for complex matters. Accountants are not immune to errors in my experience
Do you agree with this comment?
In its current form, this question has an "unbridled" depth of meaning and hence, has potential consequences for taxpayers that they, and their professional advisors may not grasp. The Tax Administration Act already provides the Commissioner with ample discretion - most particularly when dealing in the area of "the integrity of the tax system". This discretion is neither diluted or dismantled when a nominated person is involved. If the subject question was adopted however, it would give the Commissioner the power to exclude a nominated person. For who's benefit?
In order to remove any possible misunderstandings, I believe the Commissioner's intended meaning of this question needs to be spelt out very, very specifically indeed.
A taxpayer may nominate a person to act on their behalf for a variety of reasons. However, in nearly all instances, I suspect this would occur to ensure the taxpayer is treated as fairly as possible and in accordance with the law. In this regard, a nominated person is an independent third party - who is ideally placed to ensure this happens.
If the Tax Administration Act was amended on the basis of the subject question in its current form, I believe taxpayers should be very, very worried.
Not all Chartered or qualified accountants are good at putting their degrees into practice - they may have passed the theory examinations but putting it into practice is a different ball game when they have to think for themselves. You sometimes have to wonder how they got there degree. One qualified accountant I knew had no idea as to what a creditor was and no knowledge of how to process a tax return and even with considerable training could not grasp the concept at all.
A Chartered Accountant I worked for had no idea on getting the best tax advantages for clients within the law , even to asking myself to check his own tax return he had processed to see if it was correct. The sending of Financial accounts out to clients processed by various staff (who were qualified) without either knowing exactly what the clients business, in particular farming was about, was also an issue as the tax return would not be processed correctly either.
So, no, I do not agree with only accountants with degrees should be tax agents as highly experienced people can do the job very effectively and in a lot of cases much better.
No, its up to the taxpayer whom they want to represent them and the Commissioner should have no say in the matter. Integrity of the tax system is used far too often to bring in laws and regulations to suit the bureaucrats and provide bureaucrats with too much power and discretion.