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Accountants lash out at planners over TASA

Accounting industry bodies have criticised the financial advice sector for attempting to “walk away” from the Tax Agent Services Act amendments at “the eleventh hour”, as planning industry lobbyists push for a vote postponement.

In a joint statement, CPA Australia and the Institute of Chartered Accountants Australia (the Institute) decried the “last minute push” by the financial services industry to have the new regulatory framework deferred.

CPA Australia head of policy Paul Drum said the new regulatory framework had been in development for over three years, with “extensive consultation with all stakeholders”.

There has been “sufficient time” for the financial planning industry to transition to the new compliance framework, he added.

Institute general manager of leadership and quality Yasser El-Ansary said politicians who voted against the reforms would be “signalling their preference for protecting the interests of the financial services industry over the public interest”.

Calls to defer the introduction of the regulatory framework jeopardise “much needed consumer protection in this area”, said El-Ansary.

“It’s time for the financial services industry to step-up to the plate and lift their standards in the delivery of tax advice to consumers,” he said. “The accounting profession has complied with these regulatory frameworks for decades.

“Financial planners must not walk away from these vitally important reforms now, at this eleventh hour.”

Institute of Public Accountants (IPA)chief executive Andrew Conway said all tax advisers should operate under the same professional and ethical standards.

The comments follow intense lobbying by advice industry stakeholders. Financial Planning Association general manager, policy and standards, Dante De Gori, was in Canberra earlier this week to lobby MPs for excise of the TASA-relevant parts of the Tax Laws Amendment (2013 Measures No. 2) Bill 2013, which would see financial advisers who provide tax advice register with the Tax Practitioners Board from July.

Earlier this week, Association of Financial Advisers chief executive Brad Fox described the proposed regulation as “rushed and flawed”, arguing that the consultation with industry has not been sufficient – a charge seconded by Coalition MP Steven Ciobo, who tabled a report in parliament which said the lack of sufficient consultation process and timeframe on the government’s TASA agenda was “arrogant”.