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Tax agent terminated for dishonesty

Tax agent terminated for dishonesty 

The Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) has upheld the Tax Practitioners Board’s (TPB) decision to terminate a Victorian tax agent’s registration following an investigation which revealed that she made several misrepresentations to multiple federal government agencies, and received higher government benefits than she may have otherwise been entitled to.

The TPB investigation found that Feride Cerrah had both failed to act with honesty and integrity, and comply with taxation laws in the conduct of her personal affairs, including by failing to advise the Commissioner of Taxation that she was required to lodge income tax returns (ITRs) for multiple years, and misrepresenting her assessable income in those years. 

Ms Cerrah was also found to have misled the TPB by making a number of false declarations, including declaring that she had no outstanding personal tax obligations, in an attempt to maintain her tax agent registration with the national regulator.

At the appeal proceedings, Ms Cerrah told the AAT she had not deliberately lied to the TPB. She argued that the false declarations she made were the result of ‘carelessness’ and ‘inadvertence’ and not ‘wilful deceit’, claims which the AAT rejected.

Speaking about the case, Chair of the TPB, Mr Ian Klug AM said, ‘Acting with honesty and integrity is not just a regulatory requirement, it’s a pillar of the tax practitioner profession. It’s clear the public cannot trust Ms Cerrah to act accordingly when conducting her tax practitioner duties.’ 

She also misled the TPB about meeting the continuing professional education (CPE) requirements. Audits of her CPE records showed that over 200 of the hours she logged were provided by a person who was not qualified to provide CPE training. Although she was unaware the individual was not qualified, the AAT noted it was her responsibility to verify that they were appropriately qualified to provide CPE before declaring to the TPB that the CPE requirements had been met. 

‘Ms Cerrah’s pattern of dishonest behaviour and misrepresentations did not go undetected. The TPB will always act swiftly and firmly to protect the integrity of the tax system, the reputation of the tax practitioner profession and the broader community from unscrupulous agents,’ Mr Klug said. 

Ms Cerrah is banned from reapplying for registration with the TPB for four years. To report a dishonest or unregistered tax practitioner, submit a complaint with the TPB.

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_@TPB_gov_au, LinkedIn and Facebook.
 

Wednesday, February 2, 2022