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Tax agent who lent registration number banned for 5 years

Regulation

The TPB strikes off a practitioner who enabled unregistered agents to access ATO online services.

By Philip King 10 minute read

A Queensland tax agent who enabled unregistered preparers to access the ATO’s Online Services for Agents has been deregistered by the TPB and banned for five years.

The TPB said Gary Turner had breached the code of conduct by supplying unregistered preparers with his tax agent number and allowing them to “dodge” professional requirements.

“Mr Turner showed total disregard for the tax profession and the welfare of taxpayers when he allowed unregistered preparers to dodge the registration requirements,” the TPB said.

“He did this by allowing the unregistered preparers to use his tax agent number and his access to the ATO via Online services for agents, to provide tax agent services.”

It said unregistered preparers were often unqualified, poorly trained, and operated outside of the law. They posed a serious risk to taxpayers, the profession and the tax system.

“It is important for taxpayers to understand that if an unregistered preparer makes a mistake or submits a fraudulent tax return on their behalf, the taxpayer will be accountable for any liabilities and will have to pay any ATO penalties,” it said.

“It is also unlikely that an unregistered preparer will have appropriate professional indemnity insurance cover to compensate a taxpayer if they suffer a loss due to an error or omission that results from a service they provide.”

TPB investigations found Mr Turner had breached several items in the Code of Professional Conduct.

These included making false statements to the TPB to hide the fact he failed to complete continuing professional education requirements, which were designed to assist practitioners in maintaining necessary knowledge and skills.

“Mr Turner claimed that he met the relevant experience requirements for registration even though he had not,” it said. “He also failed to provide adequate supervision for the tax agent services provided on his behalf.”

“Due to his serious failures and his repeated misconduct, it was determined Mr Turner was no longer a fit and proper person to be registered as a tax agent.”

TPB chair Peter de Cure said the maximum ban handed to Mr Turner was a warning to all tax practitioners about allowing other people to use registration numbers.

“Anyone providing tax agent services on your behalf must be supervised,” he said. “We will not allow this unethical behaviour to go unpunished and will continue to protect the public and prioritise these serious breaches of law and trust.”

“Mr Turner’s conduct was serious and demonstrated dishonesty. His actions undermined the integrity of the tax profession and posed an unacceptable risk to the public.”

The TPB would be contacting Mr Turner’s clients and urging them to ensure their personal information was secure.

It said this was part of its Client Support Program, which aimed to ensure tax agent services were provided in accordance with appropriate standards of professional and ethical conduct. The program offered support to clients who found themselves in a difficult situation after using the services of a high-risk tax practitioner.

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Philip King

Philip King

AUTHOR

Philip King is editor of Accountants Daily and SMSF Adviser, the leading sources of news, insight, and educational content for professionals in the accounting and SMSF sectors.

Philip joined the titles in March 2022 and brings extensive experience from a variety of roles at The Australian national broadsheet daily, most recently as motoring editor. His background also takes in spells on diverse consumer and trade magazines.

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