The TPB is now proposing to mandate a minimum 120 hours of continuing professional education (CPE) across three years for all practitioners, starting from 1 July.
Tax agents are currently required to complete a minimum of 90 hours over three years, while BAS agents are required to complete 45 hours and tax (financial) advisers 60 hours.
The TPB’s changes, released on Thursday for consultation, will also see each practitioner be required to complete a minimum 20 hours each year.
The change will see the current 10 hours per year minimum requirement for tax agents double, while BAS agents will see a four-fold jump from their current five hours per annum requirement.
Tax (financial) advisers will see their minimum hours nearly triple from seven hours to 20 hours each year.
Other changes put forward by the TPB include allowing a CPE period to be based on a calendar year or financial year, and reducing the record-keeping requirement from six years to five years.
The TPB is also looking to permanently enshrine a COVID-19 concession by allowing educative health and wellbeing activities to count towards a practitioner’s CPE hours, up to a maximum 10 per cent of the new 120 hours requirement.
The regulator notes that such activities could include attending webinars about how to manage stress and self-care, including in relation to the management of staff health and wellbeing.
TPB chair Ian Klug said the changes were required to ensure standards remained contemporary and in line with the 120 hours requirement by the professional accounting bodies and the Financial Adviser Standards and Ethics Authority (FASEA).
“The TPB recognises the increasingly complex environment that businesses operate in and constant changes to taxation laws. The scope of services provided by tax practitioners has also expanded over time,” Mr Klug said.
“The proposed CPE standard of 120 hours over three years equates to less than an hour per week.
“This proposal also aligns with the standard of some other professions and matches the requirements of some professional associations.
“Ongoing education enhances the integrity of the tax profession, better supports client needs, and builds community confidence in the tax system.”
CPA Australia senior manager tax policy Elinor Kasapidis said it was pleasing to see the TPB take on board feedback from the profession after the regulator had proposed last year a strict 40 hours per annum minimum requirement.
“As 2020 amply demonstrated, circumstances may arise from year to year which require flexibility in completing CPD hours,” Ms Kasapidis said.
“It’s appropriate that tax advisers will continue to have the ability to complete their CPE hours over three years.”
The changes are set to kick in from 1 July after the TPB finalises its consultation process, with the regulator noting that it will make “necessary arrangements to ensure a smooth transition to the new CPE requirements”.
The TPB’s exposure drafts are open for feedback from the profession until 11 March.
Jotham Lian is the editor of Accountants Daily, the leading source of breaking news, analysis and insight for Australian accounting professionals.
Before joining the team in 2017, Jotham wrote for a range of national mastheads including the Sydney Morning Herald, and Channel NewsAsia.