Tax (financial) advisers need appropriate education levels

The Institute of Public Accountants (IPA) has said it is disappointed that the Tax Practitioners Board (TPB) has not taken on calls from the industry when it comes to education qualification requirements for tax (financial) advisers.

“At a time when the public is seeking the best financial planning and tax advice, it is imperative to ensure the new breed of tax (financial) advisers are up to the task,” said IPA chief executive officer, Andrew Conway.

In its submission to the TPB on exposure draft, “A course in Australian taxation law” that is approved by the Board for tax (financial) advisers, the IPA had stated that a one semester unit is inadequate.

“The provision of tax advice is inextricably connected with the provision of financial advice and therefore establishing appropriate education requirements including relevant education in Australian tax law is essential.   “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.  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.

“There should be a level playing field. Accountants considering AFSL licensing options in preparation for the removal of the accountants’ exemption have to do their RG146 with no free kicks in education requirements,” said Mr Conway.