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Federal Court confirms dishonest tax agent should be banned

Federal Court confirms dishonest tax agent should be banned

Tasmanian, Ms Barbara Beckett, has failed to overturn her deregistration as a tax agent. Ms Beckett had been convicted and sentenced for falsifying documents and had lied to cover up her actions and deceive authorities. The regulator, the Tax Practitioners Board (TPB), welcomed the recent decision of the Federal Court, dismissing an appeal, and confirming tax practitioners must act with honesty and integrity.

The TPB originally determined Ms Beckett was no longer a fit and proper person to be registered as a tax agent due to criminal convictions for providing 2 false bank cheques to the NSW Office of State Revenue. Ms Beckett also failed to disclose this conviction, along with adverse findings regarding professional conduct by the Legal Profession Board of Tasmania to the TPB.

Ms Beckett pleaded guilty to 2 counts of using a false document to influence the exercise of a public duty under the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW) and was sentenced to 20 months and 18 months of imprisonment, to be served concurrently. The sentences were suspended when Ms Beckett entered a good behaviour bond. 

The TPB’s enquiries found not only did Ms Beckett forge documents, but Ms Beckett was also dishonest by trying to cover up the actions to avoid disclosing them. The AAT determined this misconduct was designed to undermine the efforts of the revenue authority to establish the truth. 

In making its decision to terminate Ms Beckett’s registration, the TPB reasoned that Ms Beckett did not fully appreciate the gravity of the behaviour or entirely accept responsibility for it. Chair of the TPB, Mr Ian Klug AM, welcomed the Federal Court’s decision. ‘This decision reinforces the work we are doing to maintain the integrity of the tax profession and to instil trust in the services tax practitioners provide.’ 

‘These convictions are serious – the misconduct was multifaceted and calculated – Ms Beckett forged bank cheques and lied under oath. This is especially serious when considered in the context of registration as a tax practitioner. The importance of honesty and integrity is paramount considering the responsibilities and obligations tax practitioners have. It is imperative that the public is protected against those who do not have the character and integrity appropriate to appreciate the privileges that registration as a tax practitioner gives them.’ 

‘The public is entitled to know and expect that people who occupy the position of a tax practitioner are of high integrity and public confidence cannot be maintained without professional regulation and enforcement.’

If you know of a tax practitioner who is acting dishonestly, the TPB encourages you to make a complaint using their online form.

About the Tax Practitioners Board 

The TPB 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 5, 2022