ASIC has expanded its guidance for accountants providing SMSF services in information sheet 216 to cover the licensing exemption for tax and BAS agents.
ASIC said the additional guidance sets out some basic principles that tax and BAS agents can apply to understand whether their advice falls within the licensing exemption, and provides examples to illustrate how the exemption works. You can access the updated guidance here.
The guidance explains the relationship between the exemption in section 766B(5)(c) of the Corporations Act and the exemption for providing tax advice on financial products, which is regulation 7.1.29(4) of the Corporations Regulations.
Speaking to SMSF Adviser, Licensing for Accountants chief executive Kath Bowler said in earlier versions of information sheet 216, ASIC was completely silent on the tax agent’s exemption, which created a lot of confusion under what advice they could provide under the tax agent's exemption.
“So you had this bizarre situation where different people within the accounting practice had to rely on tax advice differently,” Ms Bowler explained.
The guidance makes it clear that licensed accountants and authorised accountants can provide tax advice under the tax agent’s exemption, she said.
“It's now consistent. So for an accountant who is a tax agent, which is almost all of them if they're in public practice, it's the same treatment whether they're licensed or unlicensed as to what they can give under that tax agent's exemption,” she said.
By Miranda Brownlee
26 April 2018