Changes to tax agent education requirements from 1 March 2013

The Tax Institute is facilitating members’ access to commercial law education requirements with new course developments.

The Tax Institute has commenced development of a commercial law course for those preparing to register as tax agents (see Table 1¹). In the proposed Tax Practitioner Board (TPB) guidelines of 14 April 2010 (which were updated on 13 September 2012), the features of the course were set out in TPB(PG) 02/2010 being: prescribed content; duration equivalent to three semesters; assessment strategies to be a combination of different types of assessment but to have 40% assessed via an independently supervised exam; and the level of the course to be at Australian qualification framework level 5 (AQF 5) (

Who needs to study these units?

Those people intending to register as a tax agent (or already registered under the transitional arrangements of the Tax Agent Services Act 2009 (Cth) under items 201, 202, 203 and 205) will require this course.

Given that three units are required, the Institute’s course will facilitate access to the Tax Practitioners Board (TPB) approved “mix and match approach” so that those people requiring only one unit will be able to enrol in a single unit if required. It has been identified that this course of study may not exist in this arrangement of topics in university course offerings.

Tax agents registered prior to 1 September 2010

Assistant Treasurer David Bradbury announced on 14 December 2012 that the government would permanently extend existing transitional rules for certain tax agents who became registered by the TPB before 1 September 2010. These are those registered tax agents and former nominees of agents who were previously registered by a State Tax Agents’ Board through reg 156(4) and (5) of the  Income Tax Regulations 1936 (Cth)².

Table 1
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Course information

The taxonomy used by the TPB is “A course in commercial law”, and the Institute has designed its course to have three units and specific “modules” which relate to the required topics.
Before designing this course, the Institute also reviewed the three competencies contained within the TPB-endorsed Financial Services (Accounting) Training Package to ensure alignment with the AQF 5 and certain modules for content coverage. Those competency units are:

  • FNSTPB501A Apply legal principles in corporations and trusts law;
  • FNSTPB502A Apply legal principles in commercial and property law; and
  • FNSMK505A Comply with financial services legislation and industry codes of practice

Delivery methods

Each unit of this course is undertaken by following a distance study guide, attending webinars (8 to 10 hours for each unit, with candidates able to interact with the tutor), and email access to a course convenor. A prescribed text will also be required.

Prescribed topics

The prescribed topics are: Australian legal systems and processes; contracts; the law of entities (including partnerships, corporations and trusts) and business structures; and property law. For a full list, the prescribed topics can be found in the guidelines TPB(PG) 02/2010 at the Tax Practitioners Board website.

More information

The Institute will open enrolments for these units in late March 2013. Those members and their employees wishing to understand whether they are affected by this requirement, or wanting more information on the course and the individual units, can call 02 8223 0038 for assistance.


Ruth Ferraro is General Manager Education at The Tax Institute.

The Tax Institute is Australia’s leading professional association in tax. Its 13,000 members include tax agents, accountants and lawyers as well as tax practitioners in corporations, government and academia.

¹Accessed at the Tax Practitioners Board website.
²TPB Communication, Change to tax agent requirements — commercial law.


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