Tax Board

The Tax Practitioners Board (TPB) is a national body responsible for the registration and regulation of tax agents, BAS agents and other tax practitioners. They also oversee tax practitioner’s compliance with the Tax Agent Services Act 2009 (Cth) (TASA). To be actionable by the TPB, the tax agent must have breached part of the TASA, usually the Code of Professional Conduct.

Immediate Action

As with other complaint procedures regarding professional misconduct, the TPB encourages complainants to resolve any issues directly with the practitioner first before lodging a formal complaint. This should be done in writing with the complainant keeping a copy for their record as the TPB will ask for proof of previous action to resolve the issue. Additionally, communication with the practitioner directly may offer a faster solution than one the TPB can offer.

Formal Investigation

A breach of the TASA is identified by either data analysis or complaints being submitted. After a complaint has been identified, the TPB determines whether it is a matter they can investigate. The TPB has authority to investigate complaints arising from sections 60-95 of the TASA which includes:

  • Applications for registration;
  • Breaches of the Code of Professional Conduct;
  • False or misleading statements made to the Commissioner of Taxation;
  • Advertising or providing tax agent services for a fee when not recognised; and
  • Any other conduct that may breach the TASA.

Tax practitioners are required to operate under the Code of Professional Conduct. This Code includes duties to act with:

  • Honesty and integrity;
  • Independence;
  • Confidentiality;
  • Competence;
  • And other responsibilities including:
    • Not knowingly obstructing administration of taxation laws;
    • Advising clients of their rights and obligations under taxation laws relevant to services being dispensed;
    • Maintaining proper professional indemnity insurance; and
    • Responding to requests and directions from TPB in a timely manner.

If the TPB has authority, preliminary enquiries are then made to ascertain whether an investigation should be commenced. This can be done by making enquiries with complainants, third parties, other regulators, or conducting profiling activities. If the TPB decides an investigation should be commenced, the relevant tax practitioner is contacted and asked to explain the complaint from their perspective. The investigation is then commenced and the TPB has six months to reach a decision, unless extended by the Board. Under the Taxation Administration Act 1953 (Cth), the TPB has the power to compel a person to provide documentation, information, other items, and appear before the TPB to give evidence. Both the complainant and practitioner will be notified of the decision once the investigation is finalised.


There are numerous possible outcomes the TPB can administer once an investigation has concluded. These include:

  • Granting or rejecting a tax practitioner’s registration application;
  • Imposing an available sanction which can include a written caution, an order, suspension or termination of an entity’s registration;
  • Applying to the Federal Court for an order for payment of a penalty and/or injunction; or
  • Taking no further action.

If there is a breach, TPB’s Board Conduct Committee requires an appropriate sanction from the list of available sanctions. An application can be made to the Federal Court for fines in serious cases.

Practitioners can appeal most decisions to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal. Both practitioners and complainants can apply to the Federal Court or Federal Circuit Court for a review of decisions under the Administrative Decisions (Judicial Review) Act 1977 (Cth). Internal review or complaints to the Ombudsman in certain cases are also available.

How can we help?

Investigations by professional disciplinary bodies like the TPB can have serious implications for your career moving forward. Robertson O’Gorman is committed to assisting clients faced with TPB investigations throughout the process and, if necessary, appeals to the Federal Court or Federal Circuit Court.