This is my final President’s Report, so I cannot help but reflect on the past year.
Personal highlights have been attending the various conventions where I have had the opportunity to meet many of our members, representing the Institute before government, and working closely with Institute staff on a number of projects.
The Institute has clocked up a number of achievements over the past year. While each is significant in its own right, when you look at them collectively, they reflect a move away from the Institute’s traditional focus on providing smaller state-based professional development seminars.
First, the Institute achieved a major milestone in becoming recognised as a “higher education provider” and launching the Graduate Diploma of Applied Tax Law in October.
Second, the Institute introduced four new courses as part of its education program:
- Tax for Financial Advising;
- Advanced Superannuation;
- Tax for Trusts in Estate Planning and Wealth Management; and
- Corporate Tax.
Third, we had outstanding support from our members at a number of signature events, in particular, the National Convention in Hobart, the Financial Services Taxation Conference on the Gold Coast, the National Tax Intensive Retreat in Noosa, and the NSW Tax Forum which topped the 500 delegate mark for the first time. Online CPD continues to evolve, with our first on-demand services being launched and more than 2,000 people attending webinars in 2014.
I have noted these developments in my column throughout the year, but it bears repeating that, in combination, they mean that the Institute’s activities are likely to become increasingly focused on its formal education program, its signature CPD events, and the online delivery of other CPD.
Changes to the tax profession
We have also seen significant changes to the profession itself, particularly with the recognition of registered tax (financial) advisers by the Tax Practitioners Board.
This represents a significant addition to the tax profession. The Institute’s main concern has been to ensure that entrants to the tax profession have sufficient education and
experience to provide accurate tax advice.
From 2016 onwards, the proposed introduction of standard business reporting will also exert pressure on tax agents to change the way that they prepare tax returns. In the short term, these changes will create technological issues for tax agents, but in the longer term, the technological changes are likely to drive changes in the way that tax agents interact with their clients.
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.