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AAT finds tax agent’s conduct deficient in integrity and character

AAT finds tax agent’s conduct deficient in integrity and character 

The Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) has again recognised that a registered tax practitioner's compliance with their own tax obligations is necessary to uphold public confidence and trust in the profession. 

The AAT affirmed the decisions of the tax practitioner regulator, the Tax Practitioners Board (TPB), to terminate the tax agent registrations of Queenslander, Mr Alan Gough and the company, Vision Business Group Pty Ltd, which Mr Gough was the sole director of.

Mr Gough and Vision Business Group both failed to comply with their tax obligations and TPB orders to bring these obligations up to date. Further, Mr Gough failed to comply with an order to undertake and provide evidence of completion of a course of education in the Tax Agent Services Act 2009, including the Code of Professional Conduct. 

This case was particularly concerning due to the number of outstanding lodgements that had accrued over a significant length of time and that Mr Gough had failed to take steps to comply with the TPB’s orders since they were imposed.

The AAT found that Mr Gough’s conduct indicated a deficiency in integrity and character, and it could not be satisfied Mr Gough was a fit and proper person to be registered as a tax agent. The AAT further noted that Mr Gough did not lead by example by meeting personal tax obligations in a timely manner and did not demonstrate any genuine contrition or remorse in relation to the misconduct. Mr Gough was given every opportunity to remedy these defaults and failed to do so. The AAT considered an obvious demonstration of genuine contrition or remorse would have been to rectify all outstanding lodgements and comply with the TPB order.

Welcoming the AAT’s decision, the TPB Chair Mr Ian Klug AM said, ‘I’m pleased to note the AAT’s commentary reiterates the importance of registered tax practitioners keeping their own tax affairs in order. Registered tax practitioners are in a privileged position of trust, and it is essential that they ensure their actions uphold the integrity of the tax system.’ 

‘As I’ve outlined in the TPB’s Corporate Plan for 2022–23, we’ll closely scrutinise tax practitioners who fail to meet the high standards expected of them. We will not hesitate to apply the most serious of sanctions permitted under the law on those that try to bring down the reputation of the majority of tax practitioners who do the right thing.’

About the Tax Practitioners Board:

The Tax Practitioners Board regulates tax practitioners in order to protect consumers. The TPB aims to assure the community that tax practitioners meet appropriate standards of professional and ethical conduct. Follow us on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook.
 

Monday, September 12, 2022