In another boon for consumers, ASIC’s Financial Advisers Register will soon feature information on whether a financial adviser can provide tax (financial) advice.
Consumers could soon find out whether their financial adviser can provide tax (financial) advice through the Financial Advisers Register.
Currently, the Financial Advisers Register (FAR), which can be viewed through the government website www.moneysmart.gov.au only contains information on registered financial advisers. However, from 1 February 2023, the register will display whether a financial adviser can provide tax (financial) advice services.
Tax (financial) advice in this context usually refers to a tax agent service, excluding any representations on behalf of a client to the Commissioner of Taxation, that is provided by an individual in the course of providing personal advice to retail clients about relevant financial products.
The service usually relates to ascertaining or advising about liabilities, obligations or entitlements under taxation law, and be provided in circumstances where the client can reasonably be expected to rely on the service for taxation purposes.
For example, this could include personal advice or any advice that is provided in the usual course of providing such advice by a financial services licensee or representative that involves the application or interpretation of the tax laws to a client’s personal circumstances, and it is reasonable for the client to expect to rely on the advice for tax purposes.
Preparing a return, objection or dealing with the Commissioner on behalf of a client, while considered to be tax agent services, do not qualify as tax (financial) advice. The regulatory landscape for providers of tax (financial) advice services changed when the Better Advice Act commenced on 1 January 2022. This required relevant providers of tax (financial) advice to be qualified relevant providers by meeting education and training standards, usually consisting of specified courses in commercial law and taxation law. However, some exemptions apply.
Generally, financial advisers, who were registered with the Tax Practitioners Board (TPB) as individual tax (financial) advisers immediately before 1 January 2022 are permanently exempt from completing the specified courses as they are considered to have already met the requirements for the said courses.
This also applies to providers who applied to the Tax Practitioners Board to be registered as individual tax (financial) advisers before 31 December 2021 and had their application subsequently approved. Providers who are exempt from the requirement to complete the specified courses and therefore taken to be qualified tax-relevant providers will have their details displayed on the FAR as being able to provide tax (financial) advice services.
Additionally, there is an extension available to existing providers who were relevant providers of tax (financial) services immediately before 1 January 2022 but were not registered with the TPB or had not applied in time to be registered. These providers will have until 31 December 2025 to complete the specified courses and can go on the register once ASIC is notified of the completion of the courses.
It should be noted that there are additional CPD requirements for those that are qualified to give tax (financial) advice, including a minimum of 9 hours in the CPD areas of professionalism and ethics and a minimum of 5 hours in the CPD area of tax (financial) advice to ensure that relevant knowledge and skills in Australian commercial and taxation law are maintained and extended.
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