The Tax Practitioners Board (TPB) on Fri 24.1.2014, released Information Sheet TPB(I) 19/2014 in relation to managing conflicts of interest. A conflict of interest is where a registered agent has a personal interest or has a duty to another person which is in conflict with the duty owed to the client.
The information sheet provides guidance for registered agents on the application of managing conflicts of interest, which is one of the requirements under Code 5 of the Code of Professional Conduct, as contained in the Tax Agent Services Act 2009 (TASA). It details the principles, provides practical examples and outlines consequences for failing to comply with this particular Code item.
According to the Board, controlling conflicts of interest requires a registered agent to: (i) identify the conflicts of interest relating to the tax or BAS agent practice; (ii) assess and evaluate those conflicts; (iii) decide upon, and implement, appropriate responses to those conflicts.
[LTN 16, 24/1/14]
[FJM Note: Of course lawyers have long accepted their own duty to avoid conflicts of interest.]
Tax Agent Services Act 2009 – s30-10 The Code of Professional Conduct
Honesty and integrity
(1) You must act honestly and with integrity.
(2) You must comply with the * taxation laws in the conduct of your personal affairs.
(a) you receive money or other property from or on behalf of a client; and
(b) you hold the money or other property on trust;
you must account to your client for the money or other property.
(4) You must act lawfully in the best interests of your client.
(5) You must have in place adequate arrangements for the management of conflicts of interest that may arise in relation to the activities that you undertake in the capacity of a * registered tax agent or BAS agent.
(6) Unless you have a legal duty to do so, you must not disclose any information relating to a client’s affairs to a third party without your client’s permission.
(7) You must ensure that a * tax agent service that you provide, or that is provided on your behalf, is provided competently.
(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 the client.
(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.
(11) You must not knowingly obstruct the proper administration of the * taxation laws.
(13) You must maintain professional indemnity insurance that meets the Board‘s requirements.
(14) You must respond to requests and directions from the Board in a timely, responsible and reasonable manner.