Repeated dishonest behaviour involving COVID stimulus measures by tax agent leads to termination of registration
Following a referral from the Australian Taxation Office, the Tax Practitioners Board (TPB) investigated and then terminated the tax agent registration of Maricar Santos Rosauro. The TPB found that Ms Rosauro had engaged in serious misconduct which involved multiple breaches of the Code of Professional Conduct (Code) and was no longer fit to be registered. The maximum five-year ban was imposed.
The TPB found that Ms Rosauro breached the Code by failing to:
- act honestly and lawfully in the best interests of her clients relating to COVID stimulus measures by submitting over 100 business activity statements (BAS) and 43 JobKeeper applications for clients without obtaining the necessary prior authority
- account to her clients for Commonwealth funds in excess of $550,000 that she received on trust as a result of lodging their BAS and Jobkeeper applications. Ms Rosauro used these funds for her personal and business expenses
- comply with the taxation laws in the conduct of her own affairs including failing to declare information to the Australian Taxation Office, pay her outstanding taxation debts and meet her lodgement obligations.
Additionally, the TPB found that Ms Rosauro made false statements to the TPB and misused the MyGov platform to assume the identity of clients for the purposes of dishonestly obtaining a benefit for herself.
The TPB currently has 99 active COVID compliance cases under investigation, with conduct ranging from practitioner error or incompetence, to reckless or fraudulent claims made either for themselves or on behalf of their clients. So far, the TPB has terminated six practitioners for COVID stimulus related misconduct, with varying exclusionary periods, suspended seven, and issued written cautions and orders to another three.
Speaking about the case, Chair of the TPB, Mr Ian Klug commented, ‘Ms Rosauro’s behaviour is appalling. She jeopardised her clients and the overall integrity of the taxation system.’
Mr Klug continued, ‘The TPB acknowledges that the initial introduction of the COVID stimulus measures presented a difficult time for tax practitioners and their clients. Tax practitioners however hold a significant position of trust to assist in administering the COVID stimulus measures and Ms Rosauro deliberately took advantage of this position to dishonestly derive benefits for herself.’
‘This decision, and ongoing matters, makes it clear to other tax practitioners and the community that such egregious and fraudulent behaviour will be met with appropriate sanctions to ensure both taxation system and the public are protected.’
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.