SME owners and individual taxpayers are being warned to check that their tax agent is actually registered to practice, after the Tax Practitioners Board found unregistered agents were using popular sites and apps to dish out advice.
The TPB has announced that in the build up to tax time 2018, it will advertise on Google, Yellow Pages online, TrueLocal online, and Gumtree to ensure that SMEs and taxpayers looking for a tax or BAS agent understand that their agent needs to be registered with the TPB.
Speaking to My Business’ sister title Accountants Daily, Institute of Certified Bookkeepers executive director, Matthew Addison said the public awareness campaign by the TPB follows a compliance campaign by the board that found a number of unregistered agents pedalling their services on online platforms.
“The TPB did some proactive compliance work and found on Gumtree or similar sites where you had unregistered agents advertising to provide tax or BAS services and they followed up with those people and changed the behaviour of a number of practitioners who were illegally operating,” said Mr Addison.
“These are people that have not met the requirements or not declared that they meet the requirements so they are unregistered and providing services to clients and they shouldn't be because in order to provide tax services to clients, you need to be registered with the board which has those requirements of education, experience, and competence, and adhering to the code of conduct and also professional indemnity insurance which an unregistered agent may or may not have.”
The campaign follows a $20 million funding boost to the TPB, as announced in the federal budget last month.
The additional funding will come from an increase in tax and BAS agent registration fees, in a bid to ensure the TPB is able to “protect consumers of tax services by registering and regulating nearly 80,000 tax agents, business activity statement agents and tax financial advisers in Australia.”
Similar issues surfaced earlier this year with car dealerships offering unsolicited and often high-risk tax advice in relation to car loans and purchases.
At the time, the TPB said it has received information about unlicensed tax advice being offered by car dealerships in an ultimate effort to push clients into purchasing a product or entering a financing arrangement.
Adam Zuchetti is the editor of My Business, and has steered the publication’s editorial direction since early 2016.