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Confidentiality and conflicts - what to do!

1K views|2 years ago
💫 Short Summary

The webinar discusses tax practitioners' responsibilities under the code of professional conduct, emphasizing client confidentiality and conflicts of interest. Real-life case studies and key principles for tax practitioners are explored, including honesty, independence, and competence. The importance of obtaining client consent before disclosing information and managing conflicts of interest is highlighted. Examples of compliance and consequences for breaching the code are provided. The segment also addresses the need for client consent in disclosing information to third parties, emphasizing the significance of protecting client data and complying with regulatory requirements. Attendees can claim one hour of continuing professional education.

✨ Highlights
📊 Transcript
Responsibilities of tax practitioners under the code of professional conduct.
Real-life case studies and common questions regarding client confidentiality and conflicts of interest will be discussed.
Nadia Harris, director of policy and legislation at the TPB, will provide answers to questions.
Attendees can claim one hour of continuing professional education.
The code of professional conduct outlines obligations for registered practitioners under the Tax Agent Services Act 2009, with Debra Anderson, a TPB board member, presenting during the webinar.
Key Principles for Tax Practitioners
Emphasis on honesty and compliance with taxation laws, as well as transparent handling of client funds.
Acting lawfully in the client's best interest and effectively managing conflicts of interest.
Maintaining client confidentiality unless legally required otherwise.
Providing accurate tax services, informing clients of their rights, and fulfilling professional responsibilities like maintaining insurance and responding to regulatory requests promptly.
Guidelines for Disclosing Client Information.
Informing the client and obtaining written permission before sharing information with a third party is essential.
Exceptions to this legal duty include situations where information must be provided to the Tax Practitioners Board or due to court orders.
Reporting obligations under different acts or the Australian Tax Office may also necessitate disclosure of client information.
Using engagement letters can help prevent fee disputes and clearly define roles and responsibilities for both parties.
Compliance with Code Item 6 in Disclosing Client Information.
Olivia, a registered buzz agent, sought permission from her client before sharing information with an international bank via email.
The video highlights the importance of preventing inadvertent disclosure of client information.
Emphasis is placed on the necessity of having appropriate arrangements in place to avoid such occurrences.
Importance of Client Information Security.
Emphasis on preventing inadvertent disclosure of client information through various means such as public computers, office paper recycling, and unsecured locations.
Advised to securely dispose of used IT equipment and protect client records.
Significance of considering privacy principles under the Privacy Act 1988 and obtaining consent from clients highlighted.
Discussion on the impact of cloud computing on storing client information and the responsibilities of tax practitioners in understanding cloud arrangements.
Importance of Client Consent in Cloud Computing for Tax Practitioners.
Obtaining client consent before disclosing information to a third-party foreign company is crucial.
Tax practitioners must inform clients about disclosures and obtain permission.
Understanding cloud computing arrangements is essential for tax practitioners.
Example involving outsourcing tax services for a local coffee shop owner named Jackie.
VCO's offshore agreement with a data processing firm in Vietnam to reduce costs.
VCO is required to disclose the arrangement to all clients, obtain explicit permission, and sign agreements with each client.
A poll shows most clients support disclosing the arrangement, obtaining permission, and signing agreements.
Compliance with these steps ensures adherence to relevant codes and regulations.
Managing conflicts of interest for registered practitioners.
Practitioners must have adequate arrangements in place to manage actual and potential conflicts of interest.
Mechanisms to manage conflicts include disclosing, controlling, or avoiding them.
Disclosure should be specific and meaningful, occurring before or when the service is provided.
When accepting instructions from multiple parties, ensure each party is satisfied before accepting consideration.
Importance of controlling conflicts of interest in professional services.
Emphasis on identifying, assessing, and responding to conflicts of interest appropriately.
Techniques like creating ethical walls, obtaining independent advice for clients, and maintaining records are recommended.
Significance of training employees on conflict of interest protocols and seeking advice from third parties when unsure.
Examples provided to illustrate scenarios involving conflicts of interest in a tax agent's practice.
Importance of Disclosing Conflicts in Professional Relationships.
Miranda recommended software to clients while receiving a benefit, emphasizing the need for transparency.
Craig, a tax agent, navigated conflicts between clients in a divorce situation by disclosing conflicts, obtaining waivers, and making decisions based on professional judgment.
The segment highlights the importance of ongoing disclosure and managing conflicts to ensure ethical conduct in professional roles.
Discussion on conflicts of interest in a scenario involving a BAS agent referring a client to ABC Accounting for a fee.
Lucia, the BAS agent, discloses the fee to her client in the engagement letter, raising concerns about fulfilling obligations under code item five.
Consequences for failing to comply with the code include administrative sanctions, civil penalty provisions, written cautions, orders, and potential suspension or termination of registration.
Severity of sanctions is based on breach nature and circumstances, with practitioners able to appeal through the AAT for independent assessment.
Tax agent's registration was terminated for improper client loans handling and confidentiality breaches.
An employee accessed and shared a former client's tax information without authorization, breaching client confidentiality.
Company lacked internal systems for data protection but implemented revised policies and procedures to prevent future incidents.
Staff received training on client confidentiality to ensure compliance.
Requirements for consent and termination of access discussed in tax information disclosure.
Written caution imposed on a company by BCC for not complying with the code.
Consent based on type of information and circumstances, with updated consent required for changes in disclosure nature.
Employees of tax practitioners considered third parties for confidentiality requirements.
Consent authority should include disclosure to employees.
Importance of obtaining permission when disclosing client information to third parties.
Legal obligations to disclose information may arise from notices or directions from authorities like the TPB, courts, or the ATO.
Emphasizes the need for independent legal advice when unsure about disclosure duties.
Defines third parties as anyone other than the client and the practitioner, requiring consent for each disclosure.
Addresses using engagement letters to obtain permission for disclosing TFNs via email.
Importance of client consent for minimizing breaches of code item 6 regarding client TFN information disclosure.
Client permission does not override broader privacy and security obligations for registered tax practitioners.
Registered tax practitioners must protect TFN information sent by email.
Checking the TBP register before outsourcing work is crucial to avoid working with sanctioned parties.
Tax agents, BAS agents, and R&D specialists can rely on the work of other registered agents.
Importance of verifying client identity and tax affairs.
Professionals should perform identity checks for new clients before accepting them.
Steps should be taken to ensure the client is a genuine taxpayer and their identity is not stolen.
An example of identity theft leading to tax agent complications was shared, highlighting the need for thorough checks.
New guidance on proof of identity and client verification is available, with a webinar scheduled for further learning opportunities.
Highlights of the YouTube Webinar Segment
The channel offers free webinars on various topics with CPD credits.
The speaker thanks the audience and TPB team for their support.
Feedback is encouraged through an exit survey to enhance future webinars.
Attendance certificates are not provided, but webinars count towards CPE.
Viewers are directed to the TPB website for more webinar opportunities.
The speaker concludes by expressing gratitude and hope for future interactions.