If you put up a task for someone to help you with your taxes, you need to make sure that they are registered with the Tax Practitioners Board (TPB). Different tax practitioners cater to specific needs, but most people use a tax or BAS agent.
Here’s what you need to know about choosing the right tax practitioner for you:
When should I use a tax agent?
You use a tax agent to lodge your income tax return. They handle other tax affairs and give tax advice, such as helping you with tax concessions you might be entitled to or working out capital gains tax or fringe benefits tax. Tax agents can also help manage your employment tax obligations, especially if you’re an employer.
When should I use a BAS agent?
If you’re in business, you can use a BAS agent to help lodge your quarterly Business Activity Statement (BAS). A registered BAS agent can also assist you with applying for an Australian Business Number (ABN) or help you manage tax obligations and super payments for your employees.
Do note that BAS agents can’t lodge income tax returns, but a tax agent can assist with BAS lodgments.
How do I know if my tax agent is registered?
You can verify your tax agent’s registration via the TPB Register. Follow the steps below:
- Select “Search the TPB Register.”
- Enter your tax agent’s name, ABN, or registration number. Filling out the rest of the fields is optional, but doing so can help narrow down the search results.
- Click “Find.” If your tax practitioner is registered, their name and registration number should appear.
Eligible tax and BAs agents can also use the Registered tax practitioner symbol to let the public know they are registered with the TPB, which you can look for on their Airtasker profile, website, emails, or social media pages.
What’s the difference between a tax agent and an accountant?
A tax agent is a specialist in taxation and compliance, whereas an accountant can advise on various financial issues, such as super, insurance, and other areas.
Whether you choose to see a registered tax/BAS agent or an accountant will depend on what you need help with. Just remember that if you choose an accountant to do your taxes, they still need to be registered with the TPB.
What happens if I use an agent who is not registered?
If your tax or BAS agent isn’t registered, you’re at risk of using someone unable to give you proper and accurate tax advice. Further, you will be using someone who isn’t qualified or bound by the Code of Professional Conduct.
Registered tax and BAS agents must meet education and qualification requirements and have professional indemnity insurance to cover their clients for negligence.
Say I pay someone for financial planning advice (including tax advice). Do they need to be registered as well?
Yes. If someone provides you with financial and tax advice for a fee, they need to be registered to the TPB according to the Tax Agent Services Act 2009 (TASA).
It’s also worth noting that tax (financial) advisers must meet licensing requirements with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC).
What if I know about someone providing tax services without being registered?
You can let the TPB know, and they will investigate it. There can be serious consequences and penalties for providing tax services without proper registration based on the Tax Agent Services Act 2009.
Where can I learn more?
You can read more about using a registered tax or BAS agent by visiting the Tax Practitioners Board website.