The Tax Practitioners Board is considering an increase in the minimum number of continuing professional education (CPE) hours required for all tax practitioners to 40 hours a year.
The TPB hopes to hope to align its requirements with FASEA’s CPD activities as much as possible, but one industry commentator has questioned just how much this can be achieved.
The TPB is reviewing its policy on CPE for registered tax practitioners. It has issued a discussion paper and is looking for responses by March 18.
Its reasons for proposing longer CPE hours are that businesses are increasingly operating in an environment of continuous change, tax laws are always changing and other associations, including FASEA, require longer CPE hours.
TPB chief executive Michael O’Neill says: “The review is an opportunity for us to both understand how practitioners view the existing system and to obtain input into the process for defining CPE policy requirements.”
The Tax Agent Services Bill says: “Keeping up-to-date with developments in the relevant taxation laws and tax administration may require agents to undergo a certain minimum number of hours of tax-related continuing professional education per year as determined by the board.”
Meeting CPE requirements is a requirement for renewal of a tax agent’s registration.
Currently tax agents must complete a minimum of 10 hours a year and a minimum of 90 hours over three years. BAS agents must complete a minimum of five hours a year and a minimum of 45 hours over three years.
Tax (financial) advisers must complete a minimum of seven hours a year and 60 hours over three years.
A maximum of 25 per cent of CPE should be completed through relevant technical or professional reading.
After receiving initial feedback, the TPB says it is looking at aligning its CPE requirements with FASEA requirements. Another proposal is that the minimum CPE hours should be the same for all practitioner groups.
It is also considering a proposal that compliance with FASEA’s requirements would automatically satisfy the TPB’s CPE requirements for tax (financial) advisers.
The TPB says it takes a “pragmatic” approach. “For example, the TPB acknowledges that many tax practitioners are members of recognised professional associations that offer a range of relevant CPE activities, such as tax technical topics, practice management and cyber security.”
These would be included as relevant CPE activities for the TPB’s requirements.
“Further, while noting that compliance with FASEA’s CPD requirements does not automatically equate to compliance with the TPB’s CPE requirements for tax (financial) advisers, the TPB also understands a likely outcome is that tax (financial) advisers who complete CPD activities that meet the CPD requirements of FASEA are also likely to meet the TPB’s CPE requirements.”
Rob Lavery, technical and policy manager at knowIT digital says that, while the TPB consultation paper proposes that advisers who meet FASEA CPD requirements would likely meet the TPB’s CPE requirements, the situation is not clear cut.
Lavery says: “There is a caveat: FASEA CPD activities must be able to be demonstrably linked to the adviser’s tax (financial) advice services to qualify as CPE under the TPBs requirements.
“Much of an adviser’s FASEA CPD activities will not relate to providing tax (financial) adviser services. In the technical competence CPD area, training on topics such as aged care, social security and some investments may contain no tax component.”