My firm recently acted on a Tax Practitioners Board dispute about the Code of Professional Conduct applicable to “tax agents” which, oddly, wasn’t actually a tax or taxation services related case, but a dispute between an employer and a former employee.

In short, specialist tax advisory firm A employed staff including B. A did not do basic accounting work but B and a couple of others were allowed and, indeed, encouraged to do so using the resources of A.

C, the owner of A, sold the tax advisory firm A to D, on understanding, amongst other things, that staff, including B, would be engaged by D to continue to run the business but D did not engage B for reasons to do with the terms and conditions offered.

The consequent disposal of B by A led to an employment dispute.

Certain clients of B chose to follow B, when B had to set up a solo practice and asked for B to do some tax related services as well as accounting.

Those clients had in fact been B’s “accounting” clients, rather than tax advisory clients of A.

When C found he wasn’t getting the purchase price he expected from the sale of A (which was tied to workflow over a period after completion of the sale), C started making complaints, including about B to a professional accounting organisation, as well as to the TPB alleging breach of the tax Agents Code of Professional Conduct by B.

The TPB, consistently with the requirements of the legislation applicable to it, sent to B a letter outlining the complaint made under the Code of Professional Conduct applicable to tax agents.

B consulted our firm’s employment law specialist, to do with the employment dispute.

B mentioned the TPB letter and the Employment Law specialist had a word with me about it, given my prior experience with TPB.

I outlined to him why TPB did not properly have jurisdiction in the matter and why the allegations did not relevantly relate to “tax services” for the purposes of the Code of Professional Conduct.

A submission in reply was sent to TPB.

B soon received confirmation, from TPB, that the allegations of breach of the relevant Code of Conduct have been dismissed.

Moral, Code of Professional Conduct does not apply well outside its proper place.