How to choose the right tax practitioner
If you post a task for someone to help you with your tax, you should make sure that they are registered with the Tax Practitioners Board. There are a few different types of tax practitioners you might use, but most people use a tax or BAS agent.
When would I use a tax agent?
You use a tax agent to lodge your income tax return. You might also use a tax agent for managing other tax affairs and giving you tax advice, such as helping you with tax concessions you might be entitled to, or working out capital gains tax or fringe benefits tax. If you’re an employer, tax agents can help with managing your employer tax obligations.
When would I use a BAS agent?
If you are in business, and need help to lodge your quarterly business activity statement (BAS), you can use a BAS agent. You might also use a registered BAS agent to help you apply for an ABN, or help you manage tax obligations or super payments for your employees. However, BAS agents can’t lodge income tax returns (but a tax agent can assist with BAS lodgments).
How do I check they are registered?
There’s a free register available to check if your agent is registered: TPB Register
Just type in the name of your agent and hit ‘Search’. If they are registered, their name and registration number will come up.
There’s also a symbol that registered tax and BAS agents can use to show their clients they are registered – look for the symbol 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, whereas an accountant can give advice on a wider range of financial issues, such as super, insurance etc. Whether you choose to see a registered tax/BAS agent or an accountant will depend on what you need help with. You can look at MoneySmart’s Choosing an accountant page for more information. Just remember, if you choose to use an accountant to do your tax, they still need to be registered with the TPB.
What happens if I use someone who is not registered?
If you use someone to do your tax or BAS who isn’t registered, you’re at risk of using someone who is not able to give you proper and accurate tax advice. Further, you will be using someone who isn’t qualified or bound by a 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 their negligence.
What if I pay someone for financial planning advice, including tax advice – do they need to be registered?
Yes. If someone is providing you with financial advice and they provide advice on the tax consequences (which is usually the case), they need to be registered. You can look up tax (financial) advisers on the TPB Register. Tax (financial) advisers need meet licensing requirements with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) too.
What if I know about someone who is providing tax services without being registered?
You can let the TPB know and they will investigate it. There can be serious consequences for providing tax services without being registered.
Where can I learn more?
You can read more about using a registered tax or BAS agent on the TPB website: www.tpb.gov.au