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Riverina businesses and taxpayers at risk of penalties

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Riverina businesses and taxpayers at risk of penalties

In recent years, businesses and individuals in south-west NSW may have received penalties and large bills from the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) because of mistakes or fraudulent claims made on their tax returns by unregistered tax agents.

“If you pay someone to prepare and lodge your tax return, you should ensure that they are a registered tax agent,” says Chair of the Tax Practitioners Board (TPB), Mr Ian Taylor. “If you use an unregistered tax agent, you may not be protected if they make mistakes on your tax return.”

The TPB is urging businesses and individuals to check that their tax agent is registered by searching its online register www.tpb.gov.au/onlineregister

Regulating 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.

“There is no protection for taxpayers who use unregistered tax or BAS agents. By using the services of an unregistered agent, you are taking big risks, as the person you use may not have the qualifications or experience required of a registered agent, or have professional indemnity insurance cover,” Mr. Taylor said.

Additionally, you will not be protected under the safe harbour provisions from the ATO, if the unregistered agent is negligent.

In 2012, Mr Malcolm Campbell provided tax agent services in the Young and Riverina districts, and was not a registered tax agent with the TPB. Many of his clients received penalties and large bills from the ATO because of mistakes he made on their tax returns.

The Federal Court found Mr Campbell had breached the Tax Agent Services Act 2009 and ordered him to pay a $64,500 fine for preparing and lodging tax returns for a fee when he was not a registered a tax agent.

The Court also ordered that for a period of three years, Mr Campbell must advise people that he is not a registered tax agent and cannot charge a fee for his work.

Mr Campbell is currently not registered as a tax agent with the TPB.

If you are aware of anyone providing tax agent services and they are not a registered tax agent, you can advise the TPB through www.tpb.gov.au/makeacomplaint

Contact: Communications [at] tpb.gov.au (Communications) on 02 6216 8313

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