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$40,000 Penalty ordered against an unregistered tax agent

Friday, September 14, 2012

$40,000 Penalty ordered against an unregistered tax agent

The Federal Court, Brisbane, last week ordered Trevor Schmierer to pay a $40,000 penalty for breaches of the Tax Agent Services Act 2009

The Court found that Mr Schmierer was operating as a tax agent, including preparing income tax returns, charging people for this service while unregistered and advertising his services, contrary to the law.

Justice Reeves ordered Mr Schmierer to pay the Tax Practitioners Board’s (TPB) costs. Mr Schmierer must also, for a period of three years, advise people he is not a registered tax agent and cannot charge a fee for any tax work. 

The TPB launched an investigation into Mr Schmierer’s activities after receiving several complaints from taxpayers. They alleged Mr Schmierer charged fees for tax agent services and had been advertising as a registered agent, while unregistered.

Mr Schmierer admitted to:

  • providing tax agent services for a fee on 132 separate occasions while unregistered — this brought on a $35,000 penalty, and
  • advertising tax agent services on three occasions while unregistered — which brought a penalty of $5,000.

Dale Boucher, Chair of the TPB said, “Our primary focus is in protecting the taxpayer community by taking appropriate action against unregistered agents. When the Tax Practitioners Board identifies a serious breach of the law, it is a priority for us to ensure it stops.”

The TPB is encouraged by this third civil penalty ordered by the Court against an unregistered tax agent. “It should now be clear to those who provide tax services for a fee, including advertising their services, while not registered with the Tax Practitioners Board, that they will be caught and have to pay for their actions.” Mr Boucher said.

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 at www.tpb.gov.au.

Complaints to the TPB can be made if tax agent or BAS services are not provided to an appropriate professional or ethical standard, or if the person providing those services is not registered.  

About the Tax Practitioners Board
The Tax Practitioners Board was established on 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.