Issued: 13 August 2021
Last modified: 13 August 2021
The Federal Court of Australia sentenced Kent Scott Hacker to seven months in prison and issued his related company with a $5,000 fine yesterday for lodging client tax returns despite a court injunction restraining them from doing so.
The injunction permanently restrains Brisbane based Mr Hacker and One Stop Global Staffing Pty Ltd (OSGS) from providing tax agent services for a fee or other reward. It was granted by the court in December 2020 but just over a month later in January 2021, the ATO identified that Mr Hacker was continuing to lodge returns. The Tax Practitioners Board (TPB) charged Mr Hacker and OSGS with contempt of court for breaching the injunction by preparing two client tax returns for a fee. This defiant move was characterised by the court as “wilful and flagrant” and demonstrated a “blatant indifference” to the orders.
Mr Hacker has a protracted history of similar behaviours. In February 2019 the TPB launched Federal Court action against him and his companies after evidence surfaced that he had been preparing and lodging tax returns for thousands of taxpayers while unregistered with the TPB. Despite giving an undertaking to the court that he would stop, he continued providing these services to clients. To protect the public, the TPB sought a court order forcing Mr Hacker to display large notices at the OSGS offices warning taxpayers against using his services.
In June 2020, the Federal Court ruled that Mr Hacker and his businesses had repeatedly been in contempt of court and contravened the Tax Agent Services Act 2009 87 times combined. In December 2020, he was sentenced to seven and a half months in prison and his related companies were fined over $640,000.
Chair of the TPB, Mr Ian Klug AM said, ‘Mr Hacker is a repeat offender who has consistently shown wilful disregard and contempt of court orders for over two years. The TPB strongly supports the additional term of imprisonment and fine handed down to his company.’
‘These types of criminal actions not only put the public at risk, but also undermine community confidence in the services and reputation of the tax profession. The TPB hope this serves as a deterrent to other unregistered preparers who believe they can operate outside of the law and take payment for tax agent services without TPB registration.’
‘The TPB will continue to pursue unregistered preparers like Mr Hacker with the utmost force of the law in order to protect the integrity of the taxation system,’ Mr Klug said.
The TPB recently commenced proceedings in the Federal Court against another unregistered preparer, Mr Nathan Williams from South Australia, alleging that, despite no longer being a registered tax agent, he had continued to operate using his clients’ myGov accounts. The Court issued an injunction on 18 June 2021.
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. Follow us on Twitter @TPB_gov_au, Facebook and LinkedIn