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Continuing Professional Education (CPE) in the Spotlight – Part I

Being a Director of ABA, an educator and a registered BAS agent, I understand and appreciate ABN’s recent CPE Equation: ABN+TPB+RTO=CPE… It makes sense; however navigating the deep dark depths of CPE can be confusing so don’t abandon ship, all aboard as we focus the spotlight on CPE for registered practitioners.

What is CPE?

CPE has been introduced under the Tax Agent Service Act 2009 (TASA 2009) to ensure those registered with the TPB remain informed on current developments in the dynamic financial services industry and maintain a high level of professional knowledge and the appropriate skills to competently deliver the services they are registered to perform.

The object of the TASA legislation is to ensure that tax agent services are provided to the public in accordance with appropriate standards of professional and ethical conduct.

This is to be achieved by (among other things):

(a)  establishing a national Board to register practitioners; and

(b)  introducing a Code of Professional Conduct; and

(c)  providing for sanctions to discipline registered practitioners.

Often in the scheme of things, the purpose of why we need to CPE (apart from legislation is forgotten.  At all times, we as practitioners should be thinking of our clients as the recipients of our knowledge and skills base and embrace the opportunity to continually develop this base.

CPE as defined by the Tax Practitioners Board (TPB)

The TPB define CPE as “any education activity relevant to the tax (financial) advice, tax agent or BAS services you provide that maintains, develops or promotes your skills, knowledge or attributes, is considered to be a continuing professional education (CPE) activity under the CPE policy.”

Why CPE?

Our industry is not stagnant and with disruption set to remain, practitioners will need to stay focused in order to keep on top of the challenges & obstacles that will arise. Changes in legislation, the industry, technology and the economic environment can impact on the services we offer… All these changes can be mastered by participating in quality education…CPE.

TPB + Association = (?)

The definition under the TPB policy is more limited than for associations as it stipulates that CPE must have relevance to the BAS Services that the individual provides. An Association’s policy may recognise these CPE activities PLUS those which contribute to the overall efficiency, development or professionalism of you or your business.

What are the Code requirements?

Practitioners registered with the Tax Practitioners Board must complete CPE in order to comply with their obligations under the Tax Agent Services Act 2009, notably the Code of Professional Conduct (Code). The Code is mandatory and regulates the personal and professional conduct of registered BAS agents, including COMPETENCE.

Competence obligations under the Code are:

Item 7 – You must ensure that BAS services that you provide, or that are provided on your behalf, are provided competently.

Item 8 – You must maintain knowledge and skills relevant to the BAS services that you provide.

Item 9 – You must take reasonable care in ascertaining a client’s state of affairs, to the extent that ascertaining the state of those affairs is relevant to a statement you are making or a thing you are doing on behalf of a client.

Item 10 – You must take reasonable care to ensure that taxation laws are applied correctly to the circumstances in relation to which you are providing advice to a client.

Obligations:

If you are a BAS Agent and a member of a BAS Agent Association you have 2 CPE obligations:

  1. Firstly to meet your Code obligations under the Tax Agent Service Act 2009; and
  2. Secondly, to your professional association (Australian Bookkeepers Association)

How much CPE?

Firstly, remember that both organisations stipulate 45 hours CPE as a MINIMUM. If you cannot maintain your competence relating to the services you provide with this level of CPE, the TPB advocate you are obliged to complete a sufficient amount to achieve the required level of competence.

A slight variance:

  1. Unless you have a condition on your registration the requirement under the TPB policy is that you are obliged to undertake 45 hours of CPE every 3 years with a minimum of 5 in any given year.
  2. Your Association (ABA) requires you to undertake 45 hours of CPE every 3 years with a minimum of 15 in any given year.

For more information on the types of activities that count for CPE, a few suggestions, and some general rules for CPE – stay tuned for Part II.

Sonya Farrawell

ABA Director

 

Australian Bookkeepers Association

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