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$30,000 civil penalty ordered against unregistered tax agent by Federal Court

Monday, May 14, 2012

$30,000 civil penalty ordered against unregistered tax agent by Federal Court

On 10 May 2012, Avril Hogan of the Gold Coast was ordered to pay a penalty of $30,000 by Justice Logan of the Federal Court of Australia.

The Tax Practitioners Board (TPB) took Ms Hogan to Court for providing a tax agent service for a fee while not being registered as a tax agent with the TPB.

Justice Logan made declarations that Ms Hogan contravened the Tax Agent Services Act 2009 (TASA), and also ordered an injunction and her to pay costs.

Ms Hogan made a number of admissions after the case began, including that she had lodged at least 150 tax returns in relation to the 2010 tax year for a fee, but was unregistered with the TPB.

In ordering the penalty, his Honour noted that Ms Hogan had cooperated with the TPB and that she was genuinely contrite about her conduct.

The Chair of the TPB, Dale Boucher said: ‘The Court’s orders should send a clear signal to other people not to prepare tax returns for a fee unless they are registered with the Tax Practitioners Board.’

In noting the Court’s decision Mr Boucher said ‘This is the first civil penalty case brought to Court by the Board.  In order to achieve this result the Board has used its strong investigation powers to gather evidence and was able to obtain the necessary information from Ms Hogan’s clients. Wherever we can, the Board is determined to take the necessary action to protect consumers against those who fail to comply with the law in this way.’

If people are paying fees for a tax agent service or BAS service, including preparing and lodging tax returns, they should check that their agent is registered at www.tpb.gov.au.

Complaints to the TPB can be made if an agent has provided tax agent services or BAS services without being registered or if services provided are not to an appropriate professional or ethical standard.

The Tax Practitioners Board was established on the 1 March 2010 to protect consumers by regulating tax agents and BAS agents and those who should register with the Board.

Further information can be found at www.tpb.gov.au.