Monday, 26 October 2009
Tax Agent Services (Transitional Provisions and Consequential Amendments) Bill 2009
Debate resumed from 22 October, on motion by Dr Emerson:
That this bill be now read a second time.
I would like to thank all members who have contributed to the debate on the Tax Agent Services (Transitional Provisions and Consequential Amendments) Bill 2009. This bill provides for the smooth transition from the current regime, which is out of step with the contemporary tax and commercial environment, to the new regulatory regime in the Tax Agent Services Act 2009, which was passed by parliament earlier this year. The bill ensures that entities currently providing tax agent services are able to make the transition into the new regime with as little disruption as possible. This includes tax agents and nominees registered under the current law, as well as entities currently providing business activity statement services.
The bill also includes special transitional provisions to cater for entities providing specialist tax agent services. Importantly, the bill introduces two safe harbour provisions. Where a taxpayer engages an agent and provides him or her with all relevant information, these provisions will exempt taxpayers from certain administrative penalties for mistakes and omissions made by their agents in certain circumstances. These safe harbours have been a key feature of the new regime since they were first proposed in 1998. They reflect the fact that, under the new regime, effective action can be taken by the board to improve the performance of tax agents or BAS agents where necessary.
The bill will also make consequential amendments to other existing legislation. These amendments will be necessary upon the commencement of the key regulatory provisions in the Tax Agent Services Act 2009—for example, the bill repeals part VIIA of the Income Tax Assessment Act 1936, which is the existing law for the registration of tax agents. The key transitional and consequential amendments include safe harbour provisions, have been the subject of extensive consultation over a number of years and have undergone significant development and refinement. Those involved in the tax agent services industry continue to express their strong support for the introduction of the new regulatory regime. The opposition has also made known its support for the new regime and the benefits that it will provide. The government is committed to the creation of a new regulatory regime that is appropriately tailored to the contemporary tax and commercial environment and that reflects legitimate expectations of consumers of tax agent services. The passage of this bill will represent another important step in the creation of such a regime. I commend the bill to the House.
Bill read a second time.
Message from the Governor-General recommending appropriation announced.