Go to top of page

Civil penalty provisions for tax agents

Civil penalty provisions for tax agents

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

  • conduct that is prohibited without registration
  • conduct of registered tax agents.

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

Conduct prohibited without registration

Conduct of registered tax agents

Consequences of breaching a civil penalty provision

Partners in a partnership


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.

Back to Top ↑


Conduct prohibited without registration

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

  Conduct Maximum penalty
1 you charge or receive a fee or other reward for providing a tax agent service
  • $55,500 (250 penalty units) for an individual
  • $277,500 (1,250 penalty units) for a body corporate.
2 you advertise that you will provide a tax agent service
  • $11,100 (50 penalty units) for an individual
  • $55,500 (250 penalty units) for a body corporate.
3 you represent that you are a registered tax agent


Exemptions

The civil penalty provision 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
  • a legal practitioner who provides a tax agent service 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 or statement in the course of acting for a trust or deceased estate as a trustee or legal personal representative.

Back to Top ↑


Conduct of registered tax agents

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.

PENALTY: Up to $55,500 (250 penalty units) for an individual and $277,500 (1,250 penalty units) for a body corporate.

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 agent 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.

PENALTY: Up to $55,500 (250 penalty units) for an individual and $277,500 (1,250 penalty units) for a body corporate.

Signing of declarations

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

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

PENALTY: Up to $55,500 (250 penalty units) for an individual and $277,500 (1,250 penalty units) for a partnership or company.

Back to Top ↑


Consequences of breaching a civil penalty provision

If you breach a civil penalty provision under the TASA, we may, within four 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 of the civil penalty provisions 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 breached 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.

Back to Top ↑

Last modified: 1 July 2020