The new legislative framework for tax agent services was first announced on 6 April 1998.

The Bill is designed to give effect to reforms to the registration and regulation of tax practitioners, including bookkeepers who provide a business activity statement (BAS) service for a fee.

The key elements of the regulatory reforms in this package are:

  • a national Tax Practitioners Board (Board) to replace the existing state based Boards
  • registration and regulation of entities providing BAS services as BAS agents
  • a legislated Code of Professional Conduct to govern tax agents and BAS agents
  • a wider and more flexible range of disciplinary sanctions which may be imposed by the Board
  • civil penalties and injunctions to replace criminal penalties for certain misconduct by agents and unregistered entities, and
  • ‘safe harbours’ which provide that, in certain circumstances, taxpayers who engage a tax agent or a BAS agent are not liable to certain administrative penalties that would otherwise apply for making a false or misleading statement resulting in a tax shortfall amount, or for lodging a document late.

The Government introduced the Tax Agent Services Bill 2008 into Parliament on 13 November 2008.