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COVID-19 stimulus package - Information for clients

20 May 2020

COVID-19 stimulus package — Information for clients

This information is also available as a PDF factsheet, download COVID-19 stimulus package - Information for clients (PDF, 628KB)

As a taxpayer seeking assistance under the Government’s COVID-19 stimulus package, it is important you:

  • are aware of your obligations to the Australian Taxation Office (ATO)
  • understand your tax practitioner has legal obligations to the ATO and the Tax Practitioners Board (TPB).


Your obligations when seeking assistance

  • Be truthful with the information you provide your tax practitioner, this includes not:
    • backdating or artificially changing your business structure or employment arrangements to obtain a benefit or payment that would not otherwise have been paid
    • changing dates, classifications or deleting transactions in order to become entitled to stimulus measures
    • changing historical transactions such as sales or wages to gain an advantage from the stimulus measures.
  • Keep the required records and provide them to your tax practitioner on a timely basis.
  • Be co-operative with your tax practitioner’s requests.


What you should expect from your tax practitioner

Your tax practitioner will:

  • ask you questions to better understand your situation
  • ask you to substantiate and provide evidence of any claims you make
  • exercise professional knowledge, skills and judgement
  • not act illegally, even if it is in your best interests
  • advise you of your obligations under the tax laws
  • take adequate steps, including asking you questions and sighting the necessary evidence to ensure the information you have provided was accurate
  • take reasonable care to determine your circumstances and apply tax laws correctly.


Your tax practitioner's obligations

Your tax practitioner has obligations under the Code of Professional Conduct in the Tax Agent Services Act 2009. These obligations include:

  • acting honestly and with integrity
  • advising lawfully in your best interests
  • advising you of any conflicts of interest
  • taking reasonable care to ascertain your state of affairs
  • taking reasonable care to apply the tax laws correctly
  • providing their services competently
  • not knowingly obstructing the administration of the tax laws
  • advising you of your rights and obligations under the tax laws
  • not making false or misleading statements to the ATO.


Examples of behaviour we are seeing

We know some businesses are making changes to their structures and employment arrangements in order to obtain a benefit or payment that would not otherwise have been paid. This is not acceptable – the TPB and ATO will take firm action should this be the case.

See our scenarios for examples of the behaviours we are seeing. We have outlined possible consequences for tax practitioners and clients, if they are found to be doing the wrong thing.


Keeping the system fair

We understand these situations can be difficult to navigate and we encourage anyone who needs advice to seek assistance.

If you become aware of someone doing the wrong thing, report them to the TPB or the ATO. All reports will be treated in the strictest confidence.

For further information, visit tpb.gov.au/covid-19-news or contact us:

  • COVID-19 hotline : 1300 362 829
  • COVID-19 tip-off covid19tipoff [at] tpb.gov.au (mailbox)


Scenarios

Scenario 1

A small business client asked their tax practitioner to claim the JobKeeper Payment for their business. In doing so, the client changed their invoice dates to reduce their revenue by 30 percent, which enabled them to qualify for the JobKeeper Payment. The tax practitioner suspected the information provided by the client was incorrect as the dates and invoice numbers were inconsistent.

Scenario 2

A client, who operates a building supply company, asked their tax practitioner to delay issuing invoices to clients for the remainder of the month. This allowed the client to show they had a 30 percent decrease in revenue, making it possible to claim the JobKeeper Payment.

Scenario 3

A small business client provided their tax practitioner with an estimate of revenue for the April – June quarter that was extremely low in order to qualify for the JobKeeper Payment. The tax practitioner was concerned that the revenue estimate provided was not reasonable based on April month-to-date actual revenue already received.

Scenario 4

A tax practitioner had a client who normally received dividends at the end of each year. The client directed the practitioner to start paying them wages so they could claim the Boosting cash flow for employer’s payment.

Scenario 5

A tax practitioner was asked by a client to reallocate income from their Profit & Loss Statement to their Balance Sheet to show their accounts had a 30 percent decrease in revenue in order to make the client eligible for the JobKeeper Payment.


Possible consequences if you do not meet your obligations

  • The ATO may impose administrative penalties (fines).
  • In some cases, criminal prosecutions may be sought.


Possible consequences if your tax practitioner does not meet their obligations

The TPB can impose one or more administrative sanctions on tax practitioners. Administrative sanctions can include:

  • suspending or terminating the registration of a tax practitioner – this means the tax practitioner cannot practice, and their business may need to close down
  • a tax practitioner receiving a written caution or orders from the TPB – for example, an order requiring the tax practitioner undertake a course of education or work under the supervision of another registered tax practitioner
  • fines being imposed by the Federal Court
  • a sanction (other than a written caution) being recorded against them on the public TPB Register. This will impact the tax practitioner’s reputation within their profession, and they could lose clients.

In some cases tax practitioners may also face criminal prosecutions.


Last modified: 20 May 2020