There are several civil penalty provisions in the Tax Agent Services Act 2009 (TASA) for tax and BAS agents (collectively referred to as tax practitioners). These civil penalty provisions can be grouped into two categories, those relating to:

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conduct that is prohibited without registration

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conduct of registered tax practitioners.

 

A civil penalty is a pecuniary (or monetary) penalty imposed by courts exercising a civil rather than criminal jurisdiction. State and Commonwealth government bodies can apply to the courts to have a pecuniary penalty imposed against an entity for breaching a civil penalty provision in some circumstances. Civil penalties do not include criminal convictions or imprisonment.

Penalty amounts

Penalties for breaching the civil penalty provisions are imposed in the form of penalty units. The current value of one penalty unit is $222.

The penalty amounts listed below reflect the current penalty unit value. For example, one penalty unit = $222, so 250 penalty units = $55,500.

Conduct prohibited without registration

You will breach a civil penalty provision if you are unregistered and:

Conduct

Maximum penalty

you charge or receive a fee or other reward for providing a tax or BAS agent service*

  • $55,500 (250 penalty units) for an individual

  • $277,500 (1,250 penalty units) for a body corporate.

you advertise that you will provide a tax or BAS agent service*

  • $11,100 (50 penalty units) for an individual

  • $55,500 (250 penalty units) for a body corporate.

you represent that you are a registered tax or BAS agent

*Note: Tax agent services include tax (financial) advice services.

Exemptions

The civil penalty provisions listed in the table above do not apply if you are:

  • an employee who is providing a tax agent service to your employer for a salary, wage or other benefit

  • registered as a qualified tax relevant provider (QTRP) with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission

  • a company or partnership providing tax (financial) advice services and you ensure every individual providing tax (financial) advice services on your behalf is registered either as a QTRP or a tax agent

  • a legal practitioner providing tax agent services as a legal service under the circumstances where you:

    • may lawfully provide the service under a State or Territory law regulating legal practice and the provision of legal services

    • prepare or lodge a return like statement* in the course of acting for a trust or deceased estate as a trustee or legal personal representative.

The civil penalty provision listed in the table above do not apply if you are:

  • an employee who is providing a BAS agent service to your employer for a salary, wage or other benefit

  • a customs broker licensed under Part XI of the Customs Act 1901, if the BAS service relates to imports or exports to which an indirect tax law applies

  • a legal practitioner providing BAS services as a legal service under the circumstances where you:

    • may lawfully provide the service under a State or Territory law regulating legal practice and the provision of legal services

    • prepare or lodge a return like statement* in the course of acting for a trust or deceased estate as a trustee or legal personal representative.

*These statements can include business activity statements, instalment activity statements, superannuation guarantee statements and pay as you go withholding payment summary or income statements

Transitional arrangement for registered tax (financial) advisers (immediately before 1 January 2022)

If you were registered as a tax (financial) adviser as at 31 December 2021 and you are not a relevant provider, there is a transitional arrangement which allows you to legally provide tax (financial) advice services until 31 December 2022 without being a registered tax agent.  

However, from 1 January 2023 you must be registered as a tax agent or QTRP to legally provide tax (financial) advice services. In the case of a company or partnership, you will need to either be registered as a tax agent or ensure that every individual providing tax (financial) advice services on your behalf is registered either as a QTRP or a tax agent.

Conduct of registered tax practitioners

Making false or misleading statements

You will breach a civil penalty provision if you knowingly or recklessly (by inclusion or omission):

  • make a false or misleading statement to the Commissioner of Taxation (Commissioner)

  • prepare a false or misleading statement which you know, or should reasonably know is likely to be made to the Commissioner

  • permit or direct an entity to make or prepare a false or misleading statement to the Commissioner.

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PENALTY

Registration type

Penalty

Individual

Up to $55,500 (250 penalty units)

Body corporate

$277,500 (1,250 penalty units)

Employing or using the services of deregistered entities

You will breach a civil penalty provision if you employ or use the services of a deregistered entity to provide tax practitioner services, when you know or should reasonably know:

  • that the entity is not currently registered but was previously registered, and

  • you first employed, or first used the services of, the entity within one year of its deregistration.

However, you will not breach a civil penalty provision if the entity’s registration was terminated because it surrendered its registration, became an undischarged bankrupt or went into external administration.

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PENALTY

Registration type

Penalty

Individual

Up to $55,500 (250 penalty units)

Body corporate

$277,500 (1,250 penalty units)

Signing of declarations

You will also breach a civil penalty provision if you sign a declaration or statement in relation to a taxpayer that is required or permitted under a taxation law, which was prepared by someone else who is not:

  • a registered tax or BAS agent

  • working under the supervision and control of a registered individual tax or BAS agent

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PENALTY

Registration type

Penalty

Individual

Up to $55,500 (250 penalty units)

Body corporate

$277,500 (1,250 penalty units)

Consequences of contravening a civil penalty provision

If you breach a civil penalty provision under the TASA, we may, within 4 years, apply to the Federal Court of Australia for an order that you pay a pecuniary (monetary) penalty. If the Federal Court is satisfied that a civil penalty provision has been breached, it determines an appropriate penalty, being no more than the penalty stated in the relevant civil penalty provision.

Once the Federal Court orders that a pecuniary penalty be paid, the penalty is payable to the Commissioner. The Commissioner can also enforce the order as if it were a judgment of the Federal Court.

If more than one civil penalty provision is breached, we may begin proceedings for breaches of any or all of the relevant civil penalty provisions, however only one pecuniary penalty will be imposed in respect of the same conduct.

Partners in a partnership

If a partnership breaches a civil penalty provision, each partner of the partnership at the time of the breach, is taken to have contravened the civil penalty provision. This is unless the partner proves that they:

  • did not engage in the conduct

  • did not aid, abet, counsel or procure the conduct

  • were not in any way knowingly concerned in or a party to the conduct

Last modified: 21 November 2022