TPB termination decision affirmed by the AAT
The Tax Practitioners Board’s (TPB) decision to terminate a tax agent’s registration and impose a one year non-application period has been affirmed by the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT).
The TPB terminated the tax agent registration of Mr Ashley Carter of Bowral, NSW on the grounds that Mr Carter was no longer a fit and proper person given he had:
- entered into a series of loans with a client without proper written agreements or providing security for those loans
- failed to have adequate arrangements in place to manage the apparent conflict of interest arising from these loan transactions with his client
- sent messages to a client, threatening to withhold loan interest repayments unless the complaint to the TPB was withdrawn.
Mr Carter was the director and sole supervising agent of ACA Partners Pty Ltd, whose registration was terminated by the TPB in April 2016 for the same conduct. Mr Carter attempted to separate his actions from those of his company; however the AAT considered that the distinction could not be made given that Mr Carter was the sole supervising agent and the ‘guiding force behind the company’.
Deputy President Humphries of the AAT stated that the TPB ‘has an obligation to take into account conduct that may have led to the deregistration of an agent’s personal company in assessing whether that agent is a fit and proper person to be registered under the Act.’
The AAT decision makes it clear that a tax practitioner cannot seek to differentiate their personal behaviour from their conduct as a tax practitioner in relation to the provision of tax agent services. Consequently, the TPB can take into account a practitioner’s general reputation and conduct, not merely his or her conduct as a tax practitioner.
Chair of the TPB, Mr Ian Taylor, reminded tax practitioners that satisfying the fit and proper person requirement is an ongoing registration requirement.
‘It applies to all individual tax practitioners; and each individual partner and director in respect of partnership and company registrations. It is important to understand that there are serious consequences for failing to meet the fit and proper person requirements,’ Mr Taylor said.
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.