Alana Hodge fraudulently obtained $192,140 from the ATO by lodging false business activity statements (BAS) and amendments without her clients’ knowledge.
On top of the jail sentence, she was also ordered to pay $158,845 in reparations.
The Tax Practitioners Board had previously terminated Ms Hodge’s registration in October 2018 and banned her for the maximum five-year term.
Ms Hodge was employed by seven businesses to manage their business tax obligations. It was found she changed the bank account details and contact information in the ATO business portal, before going on to lodge 47 false BAS for seven of her clients without their knowledge between 2015 and 2017.
In addition, Ms Hodge attempted to obtain a further $65,056 in GST refunds. However, the TPB received a tip-off from one of her clients’ accountants and were already undertaking an investigation into the suspicious activity. The funds were not released.
ATO assistant commissioner Adam Kendrick said that tax and BAS agents play a vital role in contributing to and protecting the integrity of the Australian tax and super systems.
“The ATO knows that the majority of registered agents do the right thing, but unfortunately, there are some agents who take advantage of their clients for financial benefit,” Mr Kendrick said.
“As demonstrated in today’s case, even registered tax professionals can be dishonest and take advantage of their clients. That is why it’s important for the ATO and Tax Practitioners Board (TPB) to work together to maintain the integrity of the tax profession and identify those who try to undermine their trusted position.
“We want to assure the community we take these matters seriously and work closely with the TPB to combat dishonest behaviour.”