The applicant had first approached the Tax Practitioners Board for registration as a BAS agent on the basis of her yet-to-be-completed bachelor of accounting degree, contending that she had only one more subject left to complete and that the subjects completed in her degree were equivalent to or higher than a Certificate IV qualification required for BAS agents.
The TPB, however, rejected her application, stating that she had yet to be formally awarded the education qualification required under section 101 of the Tax Agent Services Regulations 2009.
Having completed the degree’s academic requirements, she then appealed to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT).
The AAT accepted that while she had completed her degree and there was no doubt she would graduate, the degree had yet to be formally conferred or awarded by the university.
The tribunal affirmed the TPB’s interpretation of the rules that require an applicant to be “awarded” the education qualification before being eligible for registration.
“The expression ‘awarded’ in the Regulations is a reference to a formal process by which the educational institution decides to certify that a person has met all the requirements and is thereafter awarded a qualification,” said the AAT in its decision.
“It is not the ceremony that is important; it is an executive function which involves the university formally recording the award of the qualification.
“The board did not make this rule — it is a legislative instrument… But the rules are clear.”
The tribunal also noted that it was not open for it to conclude that a completed — but yet-to-be-awarded — bachelor’s degree is superior to a diploma.
Jotham Lian is the editor of Accountants Daily, the leading source of breaking news, analysis and insight for Australian accounting professionals.
Before joining the team in 2017, Jotham wrote for a range of national mastheads including the Sydney Morning Herald, and Channel NewsAsia.