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$174,500 in penalties against unregistered tax agents

Thursday, December 20, 2012

$174,500 in penalties against unregistered tax agents

During 2012, four unregistered tax agents have been penalised by the Federal Courts for breaches of the Tax Agent Services Act 2009. The courts handed down penalties against Malcolm Campbell of NSW for $64,500, Avril Hogan of the Gold Coast for $30,000, Trevor Schmierer for $40,000 and more recently Isabella Munro for $40,000, both of Brisbane totaling $174,500.

Dale Boucher, Chair of the Tax Practitioners Board said, ‘We have ended 2012 by successfully bringing four unregistered tax agents to court. Our priority will always be to protect the community against unscrupulous unregistered tax agents who operate to the disadvantage of Australian taxpayers. Penalising these unregistered agents sends a strong signal to those who are providing tax services for a fee while unregistered to beware, because it is only a matter of time before they are caught.’  

The courts found all four were operating as unregistered tax agents. The breaches ranged from preparing income tax returns while charging people for this service, making requests for amendments to prior year’s returns for people, advertising their services and providing tax agent services while unregistered.

All four unregistered agents were ordered to pay the TPB’s costs. Associated with the penalties, injunctions obtained by the TPB require that they must also, for a period of three years, tell people that they are not a registered tax agent and cannot charge a fee for any tax work.

‘We hope that for all practical purposes, this will deter any other unregistered agents from engaging in similar behaviour,’ Dale Boucher said.  

The TPB has recently developed a booklet 'Summary of penalties, sanctions and terminations' featuring these unregistered agents along with a range of other TPB compliance case studies.

If people are going to pay fees for a tax agent or BAS service, including preparing and lodging tax returns, they should check first that their agent is registered.

Anyone can make a complaint to the TPB if they feel tax agent or BAS services are not being provided to an appropriate standard, or if the agent is not registered.