Accountants and tax agents

The next steps to take if you are unable to resolve an issue with an accountant or tax agent.

Who do I go to?

Chartered Accountants

Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand (CAANZ)(external link) for complaints against current and former members. Complaints may be handled by the Professional Conduct Committee, Disciplinary Tribunal and the Appeals Tribunal.

Tax agents and accountants

Accountants and Tax Agents Institute of New Zealand (ATAINZ)(external link) for complaints against accountants and tax agents who are current and former members and if you’re not happy with any outcome from your tax agent or accountant

Fees

CCANZ(external link) to make a complaint about the fees you were charged.

The Disputes Tribunal for fee disputes of up to $15,000 (or $20,000 if you both agree).

Other issues

The Commerce Commission(external link) if you wish to report an accountant or tax agent for false or misleading conduct or statements under the Fair Trading Act.

The Disputes Tribunal OR District Court(external link) to claim compensation for faulty accountancy or tax agency services under the Consumer Guarantees Act.

 

What kind of problems do they handle?

For chartered accountants

The Professional Conduct Committee (PCC) can only handle complaints relating to a member accountant’s breach of the CCANZ’s Rules or Code of Ethics(external link). This includes complaints that your accountant has:

  • kept your records or funds from you
  • deducted payment of fees without your consent
  • acted unprofessionally or been incompetent in their work
  • had a conflict of interest or hasn’t been fully independent
  • not billed you regularly or explained the fees charged
  • been involved in criminal activity.

The PCC won’t investigate complaints if the complaint:

  • is frivolous, vexatious, or an abuse of process
  • relates to historical issues that would no longer be practical to investigate
  • can reasonably be resolved by referral to an alternative forum.

The Disciplinary Tribunal hears and determines disciplinary charges against CCANZ members.

For tax agents and accountants

The ATAINZ Disciplinary Committee can only handle complaints relating to a member accountant or a tax agent’s breach of their Rules(external link) or Code of Ethics(external link). This includes complaints similar in nature to those listed for chartered accountants above. ATAINZ does not handle complaints about fees.

The Disciplinary Committee won’t hear complaints that are frivolous, vexatious, or an abuse of process.

What do I need to do?

  1. Contact your accountant or tax agent first to try to resolve the problem using their complaints process.
  2. Contact CCANZ or ATAINZ as appropriate for accountants and tax agents if you can’t resolve your complaint directly.
  3. Follow either the CCANZ(external link) or ATAINZ(external link) complaints process to make your complaint.
  4. If you’re not happy with PCC’s decision, you may ask for it to be reviewed by the Reviewer. Follow the process set out in the Complaints Process booklet on the CAANZ’s website.  
  5. Finally, you may appeal the decisions of the PCC or the ATAINZ Disciplinary Committee through the Appeals Councils at either CAANZ or ATAINZ.

What else do I need to consider?

Please be aware that the accountant in question is usually entitled to retain your client information and records relating to the disputed fee until a fee dispute is resolved and the agreed fee paid.

The ATAINZ charges $100 to submit a complaint.

The PCC may decide to investigate your complaint. This would be a disciplinary hearing only. No damages (money) can be awarded to you to cover any losses. The PCC may rule that a consent order is issued in which case, if accepted, the accountant will: 

  • waive all or part of any fee agreed to or invoiced
  • return the whole or part of any fee already paid to you
  • pay a fine and repaying costs to you or CCANZ, or to both.

The CCANZ and ATAINZ Appeals Councils may confirm, amend or reverse any decision made by the CCANZ Disciplinary Tribunal or the ATAINZ Disciplinary Committee. They may also make review decisions about costs.

For fee dispute, it may be cheaper to make a claim through the Disputes Tribunal rather than the CCANZ's Fee Resolution Service as you have to pay an initial $1,000 plus GST to bring a claim before the Fee Resolution Service.

The Dispute Tribunal does charge a fee for making a claim. The latest fees can be found on the Ministry of Justice website(external link)

Where can I get more information?

Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand (CAANZ)

Provides information on professional standards for chartered accountants, how to make a complaint and their disciplinary process.

Visit the website(external link)
Phone: 0800 4 69422
Email: service@charteredaccountantsanz.com

Accountants and Tax Agents Institute of New Zealand (ATAINZ)

Provides information on professional development for accountants and tax agents and how to make a complaint against one of their members.

Visit the website
Phone: 0508 282 469
Phone: 0508 ATAINZ
Email: admin@atainz.co.nz

The Disputes Tribunal

The Ministry of Justice website provides information on the Tribunal and how to apply.

Visit the website(external link)

District Court

Information about your local District Court can be found on the District Courts of New Zealand website.

Visit the website(external link)

Office of the Privacy Commissioner

Provides information on the Privacy Act and how to make complaints about breaches of the Act.

Visit the website(external link)
Phone: 0800 803 909