Terms of Engagement
Any engagement of Austax Accountants & Financial Planners Pty Ltd (“Austax”) as your accountant, auditor, and/or registered tax agent is governed by our obligations under the Tax Agent Services Act 2009 (“TASA”), APES 320: Quality Control for Firms, ASQC 1: Quality Control for Firms that perform Audits and Reviews of Financial Reports and Other Financial Information, Other Assurance Engagements and Related Services Engagements, the professional pronouncements issued by our professional body, the Association of Taxation and Management Accountants (“ATMA”) and our terms of engagement as contained in your engagement letter and herein.
The following terms of engagement apply to all engagements undertaken by Austax and must be read in conjunction with your Engagement Letter which sets out; the scope of the engagement, the fee estimate for the engagement and any terms specific to your engagement.
To avoid doubt, in any instances where the terms contained herein, contradict the terms agreed to in your engagement letter, the terms contained in your engagement letter shall be deemed to take priority.
Our Commitment To You
We confirm that we are registered as a tax agent under the Tax Agent Services Act 2009 (TASA), our Registered Agent Number is 73380-000, and appropriately qualified and legally authorised to provide the services we offer to our clients. We will notify you immediately should any of our registrations, qualifications or licenses required to undertake an engagement be suspended or terminated before the conclusion of the engagement.
We undertake to carry out the work we are engaged to perform in a professional and ethical manner on a timely basis.
We undertake to inform you, our client, of various taxation and regulatory changes via our monthly newsletters which are available from our website. Our clients are welcome to call us for further information or to clarify any issues of concern to them.
Responsibilities of the Parties
It is necessary that you provide all information which may be relevant to the completion of the engagement. We will advise you of the date by which we need to receive your information in order to ensure completion of the engaged task(s) on a timely basis.
In the event that all necessary information is not provided when requested, we cannot guarantee that the engaged task(s) will be completed by lodgement due date and/or to the standard required by legislation and therefore you may be subject to penalties imposed by the Australian Taxation Office (“ATO”) or other regulatory bodies such as the Australian Securities and Investment Commission (“ASIC”).
This engagement is performed by us using the information and data provided by you, our client. Accordingly, any advice provided by us is only an opinion based on our knowledge and understanding of your particular circumstances. Any tax returns prepared by us on your behalf, including any schedules or elections contained therein, are subject to the same limitations.
We will exercise reasonable care, as contemplated by the TASA, when conducting this engagement, but ultimately the responsibility for the accuracy and completeness of the information used by us vests with you.
You are responsible for the information contained in any activity statement or tax return prepared by us on your behalf.
Should you become aware of any errors or omissions in the information relied upon by Austax as the basis of any advice provided to you or used to prepare your activity statement, financial statements or tax return, it is your responsibility to contact us to ensure that any advice provided is still applicable to your circumstances, or where necessary, to arrange for an amendment to be made to any documents, financial statements or tax returns so affected.
Failure to do so immediately may result in the ATO applying penalties and/or interest charges in addition to any shortfall tax amounts or increasing the severity of any penalties that may be applicable or possibly lead to prosecution and imprisonment. Objections and amendments are also subject to time limits imposed by the ATO and failure to notify us of any changes in a timely fashion may result in us being unable to adjust your return.
Unless specifically set out in the scope of our engagement, we will not audit or verify the accuracy of the information received and our engagement cannot be relied upon to disclose any error, fraud or other misstatements in the information. However, we will exercise reasonable care, as contemplated by TASA when reviewing information you provide us and will advise you of any apparent deficiencies which come to our attention in the course of the engagement.
Under the self-assessment system, any tax returns lodged on your behalf are generally accepted by the ATO at face value without adjustment. Even though you may receive a notice of assessment, which creates the formal obligation to pay tax, your return may be subject to further review or verification. The ATO period of review is usually two to four years from the date your notice of assessment is issued.
Should a tax return lodged your behalf be subject to an audit or review by the ATO, you have certain rights and options, including the right to object and the right to appeal to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal should a dispute with the ATO arise.
It is your responsibility to keep all the records, receipts, logbooks, travel diaries, minutes and other documentation used to prepare your tax return. If you are claiming tax deductions, you must keep written evidence to verify your claims for those deductions to comply with your substantiation obligations imposed under Australian taxation law.
Such records must generally be kept for a period of five years from the date your notice of assessment is issued, note however other legislation may require you to retain some or all of your records for longer periods of time. We will not take responsibility for any failure on your behalf to maintain adequate records.
If you are aware of any conflicts of interest which exist in respect of our engagement, or which may arise during the course of our engagement, you must advise us immediately upon becoming aware of the conflict of interest.
Advice provided to you during the course of this engagement may require acting upon to ensure that you comply with the law or statutory lodgement deadlines. Occasionally action may need to be taken within strict time limits. Austax accepts no responsibility for any loss or damages arising as a result of your failure to act upon advice provided to you, or failure to act within the time limits specified on any particular advice.
This engagement should in no way be construed to diminish your responsibility to understand and comply with any obligations imposed upon you by law.
Code of Conduct
We are bound by the codes of professional conduct mandated under the TASA and the regulations of the Association of Taxation and Management Accountants (“ATMA”), in addition to all legal obligations and responsibilities imposed by Commonwealth and State legislation.
Other key elements of the TASA code of professional conduct include the following requirements:
Lien over Documents
In relation to any subsequent termination of our services, you are advised that we shall not exercise any lien over any documents, regardless of whether fees have been paid in full or not.
Ownership of Documents
The final financial statements, activity statements, tax returns and any other documents which we are specifically engaged to prepare, together with any other original documents given to us shall remain your property. Any other documents brought into existence by us including general journals, working papers, the general ledger, draft financial statements and/or tax returns, will remain our property at all times. However, we will provide you with copies of any documents that you may require from time to time upon request.
We aim to provide the highest standard of professional service and are focused on the concerns of our clients. If for any reason you feel you have not received the service level expected or have an issue to raise, please, at first instance, contact your accountant to discuss how the problem may be resolved.
Furthermore, as members of the ATMA in public practice, we are subject to the ethical requirements of the ATMA and its Investigations and Disciplinary processes. These requirements cover issues such as a Code of Conduct of Members in Public Practice, Ethics, adherence to Accounting and Auditing Standards, requirements to undertake Continuing Professional Development and to hold trust money in a Trust Account. Should there be an issue regarding the ethical or business practices of our firm, such matters may be referred to the ATMA for investigation. However, as the accounting profession does not have regulated fees, the ATMA will not investigate purely fee-based disputes but may recommend the parties seek mediation to resolve such disputes.
The Tax Practitioners Board may also be contacted to investigate instances where the TASA Code of Professional Conduct may have been breached.
As members of the Association of Taxation and Management Accountants (“ATMA”) our firm is subject to periodic quality assurance reviews (as well as annual audit of our trust account). Unless otherwise advised by yourself, by engaging our firm, you are consenting to your files possibly being part of such a quality review.
As a matter of professional courtesy, and in line with the requirements of the ATMA, we will need to inform your previous accountant (if any) that we have been engaged by you as your new accountant and to receive from them any outstanding matters and files. You may refuse to provide this information but in doing so may cause problems in the efficient transfer of your files.
Confidentiality and Disclosure of Information
To enable us to perform the tasks specified in your Engagement Letter it is necessary for us collect and maintain certain personal information which includes your Tax File Number (“TFN”).
We are authorised to collect your TFN in accordance with the Taxation Administration Act 1953.
For the purposes of point 5 above by engaging Austax you are consenting to our your personal information being disclosed as follows;
Where Austax requires the services of a third party you authorise us under this engagement to disclose any of your personal information to a third party engaged on your behalf, or to procure the services of a third party on your behalf, to the extent the information is necessary for them to undertake any task that is required of them by Austax to complete the tasks for which they were engaged by you.
Austax may disclose your personal information to third party service providers to Austax, such as tax and accounting software providers, cloud based accounting software or storage providers, external auditors, banks, the ATO, the Tax Practitioners Board, the ATMA and/or other recognised professional accounting bodies to the extent the information is necessary for them to provide essential services to Austax to allow our business to operate or meet our professional or statutory obligations.
Electronic Data, Storage & Management
Austax operates on a paperless basis, meaning that we store your records electronically.
In addition to our own IT infrastructure, we use off site email storage, online banking facilities, and we use online and cloud based accounting systems and document storage facilities including, but not limited to, the Tax Agent Portal, Xero, Saasu, Reckon Hosted, MYOB Essentials, Sage One, Dropbox, One Drive & iCloud. The cloud storage facilities and IT servers operated by these providers may be located outside of Australia.
While we make every reasonable effort to maintain data stored in these platforms securely, using methods such as firewalls, anti-virus software, encryption, digital certificates, Auskey, password protection and two step identification where available, and our vendors have covenanted to us that they will also make such reasonable efforts, we advise you that no computer system is free from risk of data breach.
Accordingly as part of these terms of engagement you agree to indemnify and release Austax from all claims for damages arising from the use of cloud based storage or cloud based accounting services arising or resulting from the provision of our services to you.
Our contract with you for services to be supplied will be governed solely by Australian Law and any dispute shall be referred exclusively to a Court or other appropriate tribunal within the jurisdiction of Australia.
Under the Professional Standards Act 2003 (Vic) and the Scheme approved under that Act, the liability of the firm, its partners, associates and employees or contractors is limited.
Austax will communicate with you and with others on your behalf by email as our primary method of written correspondence. Email communications sent without encryption can be intercepted and may be read by a third party. Other potential risks include non-delivery or failure to read an email in a timely manner.
In this regard, you agree to indemnify and release Austax from all claims arising from the use of email in our communication with you or the communication we undertake in the course of carrying out our assignment on your behalf or in accordance with your instructions.
Workplace Health & Safety
As an employer concerned with the welfare of staff, we ensure that Austax provides a safe workplace in accordance with workplace health and safety requirements. In the event that staff members of Austax are required to visit your premises, it is on the understanding that you comply with all Workplace Health and Safety Standards.
Any visiting Austax staff member(s) are authorised to leave your premises if in their assessment there is a workplace hazard that endangers their well-being and that hazard cannot be remedied immediately.
Company Secretarial Services
Clients who are Pty Ltd companies may have registered office services included in the scope of our engagement in their engagement letter.
The provision of registered office services is only available to clients who have elected for Austax to be their registered ASIC agent.
Where the address of our office is used by a client company as their Registered Office, it is solely for the purpose of acting as agent for the receipt of any documents delivered or served upon the Company.
The address of our office may not be used as the Principal Place of Business by a client company.
Any documents received on behalf of client companies for whom we act as their Registered Office will be scanned and forwarded to the Company Secretary via e-mail or dealt with in such manner as you may, from time to time, direct.
Referrals to Other Service Providers
In the course of performing this engagement, we may encounter situations that require specialist advice, or services that are necessary for us to complete the engagement which Austax is not qualified to provide. Examples of such services include legal advice, financial advice, actuarial services, audit services, insolvency services, business and property valuations, title searches and depreciation or quantity surveyor reports.
In expectation of these situations, Austax maintains a network of referral partners, and will advise you when we believe their services are necessary to enable us to complete of our engagement.
At no stage under the terms of this engagement are you under any obligation to use a third party service provider that we recommend and we undertake to give you the option to direct us to use an alternate, appropriately qualified, service provider of your choice.
Where Austax requires the services of a third party you authorise us under this engagement to disclose any of your personal information to a third party engaged on your behalf, or to procure the services of a third party on your behalf, to the extent the information is necessary for them to undertake any task that is required of them to complete this engagement.
Unless otherwise noted, any costs incurred will be either invoiced to you directly by the third party service provider or invoiced to you by us at cost, in addition to our professional fees. Austax may receive a commission or referral fee from it’s referral partners which will be disclosed to you.
Professional Fees and Payments
Our fees and charges for services provided to you will generally be determined as outlined in your engagement letter.
Our professional fees for the services provided to you will be based on the time and degree of skill and acumen required to complete the tasks required.
Our professional fees are:
Senior Accounting Staff $550 per hour
Accounting Staff $330 per hour
Junior Accounting Staff $165 per hour
Secretarial Services $110 per hour
For work undertaken for periods of less than an hour, the rate shall be charged in 15 minute blocks or part thereof. The rates shown above include GST.
Our fees are exclusive of any disbursements, out of pocket expenses or expenses incurred on your behalf for third party services essential to completing an engagement such as ASIC fees, actuarial certificates or valuation reports required for capital gains tax purposes.
Terms of Payment
Unless stated otherwise on our invoice or your engagement letter, our terms of payment are strictly 14 days from the date of each invoice.
We will provide you with an itemised account of professional fees, costs and disbursements upon request.
For certain types of engagements or work requiring outlays or large commitments by Austax we may require an upfront retainer and/or a personal guarantee from one or more of your associates, for example the directors of a company may be required to guarantee payment on behalf of the company.
Services to be provided by Austax may be suspended where there are outstanding invoices for previous work performed under an engagement. This includes not lodging an activity statement, income tax return or other statutory return on your behalf until such time as any outstanding accounts are settled in full.
Where, as the result of your failure to settle an account within the terms stipulated, your tax return or other statutory lodgement is lodged late, you hereby agree to indemnify Austax from any liability to compensate you for any late lodgement fines, penalties or interest charges imposed by the ATO, ASIC or any other regulatory body.
Should your account become overdue, it is your responsibility to advise Austax once payment has been made in full, and, to confirm with your accountant that any outstanding returns have been lodged.
Duration of Engagement
Our engagement will commence upon acceptance by Austax of a correctly signed Engagement Letter from you, and continue until the completion of the engaged tasks. Where the scope of the engagement includes the provision of recurring services, our engagement will continue until it is either terminated in writing by either party, or the engagement is superseded by signing of a new engagement letter.
Where we are unable to complete an engagement due to your failure or refusal to; comply with the law; comply with our advice, instructions, directions or requests; sign a tax document prepared by us on your behalf; provide the necessary information for us to complete the engagement; or, the termination of this engagement by either party, all fees incurred for work performed under this engagement up to that point will become due and payable by you immediately.
Varying the Terms of Engagement
Austax reserves the right to change these Terms of Engagement at any time, and any amended Terms of Engagement are effective upon posting to this Website. Austax will make every effort to communicate any significant changes to you via e-mail or by having you sign an updated Engagement Letter. Your continued use of our services will be deemed acceptance of any amended Terms of Engagement.