Issued: 15 August 2022
Last modified: 15 August 2022
The Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) has confirmed a 3-year ban on a Melbourne tax agent involved in serious misconduct, including tax evasion and false invoicing.
The AAT supported the Tax Practitioners Board (TPB) decision to terminate Gregory Kennedy’s tax agent registration, with a ban from reapplying for 3-years. Deputy President (DP) Bernard McCabe agreed that Mr Kennedy was no longer a fit and proper person to hold a tax agent registration, declaring ‘Mr Kennedy’s good fame, integrity and character is particularly important in a system where tax practitioners are the connection between individual taxpayers and the Commissioner (of Taxation) in our self-assessment system. That system can only work if tax practitioners are trustworthy.’
DP McCabe went on to say ‘Mr Kennedy’s disregard for his obligations is breathtaking. His self-important defence of bad behaviour reflects a startling lack of insight into the egregious nature of his conduct.’
The conduct was serious, multi-faceted and extended over a long period of time. Mr Kennedy failed to meet personal tax obligations on several fronts, including on behalf of related entities, and was previously prosecuted for non-lodgement issues. Mr Kennedy also made false declarations to the TPB and acted in contravention of the corporations law, by acting as a front for a shadow director, who was a bankrupt and could not act as a director in their own right. In addition, Mr Kennedy was involved in tax evasion schemes, sham invoicing and was less than candid in engaging with the Australian Taxation Office.
In defence, Mr Kennedy claimed to be too busy attending to other matters, such as client’s affairs and community work, to attend to personal tax obligations. The AAT’s decision clearly refutes the credibility of this excuse. DP McCabe stated, ‘His repeated failures to comply with his taxation obligations in the face of formal cautions and criminal proceedings leaves me with little confidence that he will comply with his various obligations in the future.’
DP McCabe continued, ‘I am nonetheless concerned Mr Kennedy’s expressions of remorse at the hearing were informed by a desire to avoid more serious consequences. His repeated claims in his statement that he made a deliberate choice to disregard his taxation obligations might more accurately reflect his genuine beliefs.’
Speaking about the outcome, Chair of the TPB Mr Ian Klug AM remarked ‘I welcome the AAT’s decision which sends a strong message to any tax practitioners involved in misconduct. Our goal is to support the integrity of the tax profession and the tax system. The community has no tolerance for tax practitioners who are dishonest, who fail to address their own tax obligations and who are involved in sham tax evasion or potential corporate law transgressions. These egregious tax practitioners will be banned, by deregistration and exclusion for a suitable period, which reflect the most serious sanctions under the law.’
The TPB acknowledges and welcomes tax practitioners and members of the public who share valuable intelligence to support integrity. If you know of any tax practitioner misconduct get in touch with the TPB.
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, Facebook and LinkedIn.