The head of the Tax Practitioners Board is warning all taxpayers to check that their tax agent is properly registered before completing this year’s return, stating that using an unregistered one can prove costly.
According to the TPB, a federal government body, there have been instances of agents posing as legitimate and registered tax professionals who lodge tax returns on behalf of potentially unsuspecting clients, often by accessing their myGov accounts.
It pointed to a Federal Court case earlier this year in which the TPB had accused Brisbane man Kent Scott Hacker of unlawfully charging fees while unregistered and claiming false or overly generous tax deductions.
Mr Hacker entered a court-enforceable undertaking to refrain from providing tax services.
At the time, Michael O’Neill (pictured), CEO of the TPB, said that such actions could potentially expose clients to tax bills and penalties worth thousands of dollars, noting that 75 complaints had been received about unregistered tax advisers within the six months to March 2019.
“Members of the community and tax practitioners frequently report information about the unlawful activities of unregistered agents,” Mr O’Neill said on Tuesday (2 July).
“The TPB take[s] this intelligence very seriously and [is] currently investigating 37 cases. The worst cases will be brought to the Federal Court of Australia for prosecution.”
He reiterated that the potential cost to taxpayers of using an unregistered tax agent can “cost thousands of dollars”, and suggested that “if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is”.
“Using an unregistered tax practitioner can cost thousands of dollars in tax bills and penalties,” Mr O’Neill said.
“It also means you are not covered by safe harbour provisions that offer protection against penalties from the ATO when a registered tax practitioner fails to lodge on time or makes a false or misleading statement on your return.
“We urge everyone this tax time not to share their personal myGov password with anyone, and if they plan to use a tax agent, to make sure they are registered with the TPB.”
The TPB has advised taxpayers against sharing their myGov password, and said that charges should not be made for lodging or preparing a tax return through myGov.
Tax agents’ registration status can be checked on the public register available on the TPB’s website.
Adam Zuchetti is the editor of My Business, and has steered the publication’s editorial direction since early 2016.
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