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Fake tax agent fined $40,000

Fake tax agent fined $40,000

The Federal Court of Australia has fined Ms Arlene Caolboy $40,000 for unlawfully providing tax agent services to approximately 350 taxpayers over the past four years, advertising online and telling taxpayers she was a registered tax agent. The Court also imposed an injunction on Ms Caolboy, preventing her from providing tax agent services or BAS services for the next three years whilst she remains unregistered with the Tax Practitioners Board (TPB).

In determining the appropriate penalty, Justice Michael Wheelahan noted that Ms Caolboy’s actions were at the ‘serious end of the spectrum’, recognising that her clients were put at risk by having their tax affairs managed by a person without the requisite qualifications.

Justice Wheelahan further noted that were it not for Ms Caolboy’s co-operation with the TPB, a much higher penalty would have been appropriate. Before the litigation commenced, Ms Caolboy had admitted to the TPB all the contraventions and later voluntarily disclosed to the TPB and Australian Taxation Office (ATO) all client records, outlining the tax agent services she had provided, including the cash income she had received for them.

Speaking about the case Chair of the TPB, Mr Ian Klug AM, remarked, ‘We are pleased that the Federal Court appreciated the magnitude and seriousness of the contraventions. Ms Caolboy has clearly undermined the tax profession and system by misrepresenting to taxpayers that she was a registered agent.  

‘We believe the Court has reached an appropriate punishment for Caolboy’s misconduct. It is a clear message to any others providing tax agent services unlawfully that the TPB will take firm action. However, we do take into account personal circumstances and, as demonstrated here, may recommend leniency where someone co-operates fully with us. 

‘We would encourage consumers to exercise care when choosing a tax practitioner. We remind everyone that a registered tax agent would not look to lodge your return through your myGov account.’ 

To ensure you don’t become a victim, the TPB encourages everyone to check whether your tax practitioner is registered. You can check via the TPB Register. If you have engaged someone who does not appear on the register, you should make a complaint to the TPB. We also encourage you to review your tax affairs and contact the ATO if you have any concerns.

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 @TPB_gov_au, Facebook and LinkedIn

Tuesday, November 10, 2020