The Federal Court this week fined Zada Dedic after previously finding she had contravened s.50-5(1) of the Tax Agent Services Act 2009 on 86 separate occasions by providing a service that she knew, or ought reasonably to have known, was a “tax agent service” for a fee or other reward without being a “registered tax agent”.
According to court documents, Ms Dedic derived an overall financial benefit of approximately $17,370 from her infractions.
Speaking to AccountantsDaily, Ian Taylor, chair of the Tax Practitioners Board, said that unregistered agents preparing tax returns is a “reasonably common” problem, but the board is limited in the action it can take.
Currently, when the board becomes aware of an unregistered agent providing tax agent services for a fee the procedure in place is to send out a cease and desist letter, according to Mr Taylor.
This letter details the consequences of continuing to operate unregistered, which can include Federal Court action, Mr Taylor said.
Tatjana Zerafa, senior legal officer at the Tax Practitioners Board, said Ms Dedic was notified of the allegations against her but failed to heed the board’s warning.
“The evidence indicated that she continued to provide tax agent services without being registered. Obviously the most appropriate option in our case was to instigate proceedings,” she said.
Mr Taylor said he thought the fine to be a fair outcome and that he hopes it will deter other unregistered tax agents from operating in the future.
“Whenever we get an opportunity we emphasise to unregistered agents the concerns and the sorts of fines that are handed out by the courts in these matters,” he said.
“When a person is not registered then obviously the ability of the public to rely on that service is, we think, considerably reduced”.
“It’s all about consumer protection… to ensure that the services that are provided to the public by registered practitioners meet certain ethical and professional standards and that the public can rely on that service,” said Mr Taylor.