TPB to go ahead with COVID-19 registration fee hike
Tax agents looking to register or renew their agent registrations in the new financial year will face a fee hike as the Tax Practitioners Board implements its second annual consumer price index adjustment.
From 1 July 2020, the application fee to register or renew as a tax agent, BAS agent or tax (financial) adviser will rise according to a consumer price index (CPI) adjustment.
Tax agents will now need to pay $700, up from $687; BAS agents will see a $3 increase to $140; while tax (financial) advisers will need to fork out $560, up from $550.
The fees are payable once every three years and are not subject to GST.
The TPB noted that upcoming renewals or registration applications paid and submitted before 10pm (AEST) on 30 June 2020 will be based on the current year’s fee.
The CPI adjustment was introduced by the government in the 2018–19 federal budget, in a bid to fund a $20.1 million boost to the TPB to help it enforce “appropriate professional and ethical standards”.
The TPB’s new financial year fee hike comes as states and territories across the country have announced various forms of business fee freezes and waivers in light of the COVID-19 situation.
While the professional accounting bodies have acknowledged that the CPI adjustments are small in nature, the principle of increasing the burden on practitioners, particularly in tough economic conditions, is incongruous.
In its pre-budget submission this year, CPA Australia called for the government to reduce or “preferably completely remove” fees imposed by the TPB on tax practitioners, and fees imposed under ASIC’s industry funding model to mitigate the rising cost of public practice.
Likewise, the Institute of Public Accountants believes that while the TPB should be well funded, the cost should not be borne by practitioners.
“The point is the ongoing increasing burden on small practitioners. Every complexity, every cost is going up, and practitioners are under fee pressures as well — they can’t actually pass on a lot of these increased costs,” said the IPA’s Tony Greco last year.
Despite moving ahead with the CPI adjustment, the TPB has put in place annual declaration and renewal concessions to support tax practitioners throughout the COVID-19 crisis.
These include allowing practitioners who are due to complete their annual declarations on or before 31 December 2020 to be allowed to complete it in 2021, or 2022 if their registration renewal is due in 2021.
Practitioners who are unable to lodge their registration renewal applications on time can also discuss their situation with the TPB for appropriate arrangements.
The future of registrations
While registrations are currently valid for a period of at least three years, that policy is set to change, should the government proceed with a key suggestion raised in the independent review of the TPB.
The TPB believes there is “no discernible policy basis” for a three-year registration period and has called for a change to an annual registration process, replacing the current annual declaration process.
The wide-ranging review also explores higher education standards for agents, and equipping the TPB with a wider range of sanctions. While the review’s final report has since been provided to the government, the Treasury has yet to respond.
Additionally, a discussion paper released by the TPB earlier this year flagged the possibility of significant CPE increases and a move to a calendar-year model for a registration period.