Accountants - Qualifications and Knowledge
In addition to their formal tertiary qualifications and studies, principals of the Success Tax Professionals network of accountants participate in compulsory professional development on an on-going basis. This is an essential requirement as a part of their membership to our group. The tax industry is a specialised area subject to constant change. Accountants require current and up to date knowledge in relation to changes, advancements and the interpretation and application of policy. They also require detailed product knowledge to ensure their clients receive the best service and outcomes. You can for example, compare this to the medical and legal professions. A doctor or lawyer may hold their qualification, but if they do not keep up to date with new developments, then over time their knowledge is quickly superseded and inaccurate. As a professional service provider, accountants are no different. Consequently all of our accountants are required to participate in our Professional Development Programme.
What types of services are available?
Success Tax Professionals provide the full range of services required by businesses, investors, property owners and more complex or involved Individual taxation, including:
- Business Accounting Services
- Taxation Return Preparation, Lodgement and Review
- Self Managed Superannuation Funds (Set-Up, Accounts, Taxation and Audit)
- Business Structure Set-Up (Companies, Trusts, Partnerships)
- Proactive Taxation Planning
- Business Advice and Strategies (Business Advisory)
- Asset Protection Services
- Salary Sacrifice
- Negative Gearing
Service Fees and Payment
Contact the practice you wish to deal with to discuss service fees if you have any questions. Our practices base their fees on a fee schedule established and reviewed on a regular basis by the relevant department within the Success Tax Professionals organisation. Individual Tax Return clients can be advised of a starting fee for the type of work involved. Business clients may discuss the nature of the work involved and receive an Engagement Letter defining the work involved and the contracted rates at the time. Factor in that fees and rates do vary over time and variations to work involved may result in extra service fees. For example, where the accountant finds that there is more work involved or other complexities. Good communication with your accountant is important in order to provide reliable estimates. Individual Tax Return clients will need to pay for services at the time of the service. Business clients typically go through a standard basic process to assess and establish credit approval.
What does 'Registered Tax Agent Status' mean?
Success Tax Professionals are Registered Tax Agents. A lot of confusion exists over various titles and memberships including CPA, Chartered Accountant, IPA etc. Accountants may fulfill the necessary criteria and become members of one or more ‘membership’ organisations. This is not the same as Registered Tax Agent status. Accountants within our network belong to various bodies including CPA (Certified Practising Accountants). It is however Registered Tax Agent status that allows for the completion of tax affairs and the charging of a fee for the service. It is illegal to charge a fee for the provision of tax services unless someone is either a Registered Tax Agent or employed by a Registered Tax Agent (for example a graduate accountant in a firm who is being supervised) . Tax Agent status involves satisfying the Tax Practitioners Board that the required formal qualifications and extensive practical experience in the industry have been obtained.
Tax Advice Services
Tax Advice utilises an accountant’s time, resources and knowledge and therefore like other professional services involves a fee. Good tax advice can make a substantial difference in reducing tax payable and in preventing future hardships or difficulties. As accountants charge a fee for providing advice, if you are seeking a ‘free service’ we recommend contacting the Australian Taxation Office. Most general questions or general free information regarding tax scenarios can be obtained by contacting the Australian Taxation Office – www.ato.gov.au.
Deductions and Tax Refunds
Registered Tax Agents are required by law to comply with policy and legislation. We work within the law to maximize tax refunds and reduce tax liability. We therefore conduct interviews, ask questions and obtain documentation from you to support your claims. Accountants can only by law work with information that you are able to prove or substantiate. The Australian Taxation Office may audit or ask to see specific evidence in support of your tax return and various claims and this may happen some time after the tax return has been lodged. It is the responsibility of the client (i.e. taxpayer) to keep documentation and prove that the information in the tax return is true and correct. If you are dissatisfied with the amount of your tax refund, factor in that your accountant has correctly complied with the law and that penalties for fraudulent claims or false information can be severe and are the responsibility of the client and not the accountant. If you choose to seek the opinion of another accountant you may do so, but factor in that a service has been provided and will be charged for the time and work involved, irrespective of whether you choose to go ahead with lodging the return or not.