The Tax Practitioners Board announced this week that the AAT affirmed its move to reject Philip Ham’s application for renewal of tax agent registration.
The Brisbane-based Mr Ham had been registered as an individual tax agent since June 1989.
In a statement, the TPB said it was not satisfied that Mr Ham was a fit and proper person given his conduct as the sole director of Canehire Pty Ltd, as trustee.
This includes being “knowingly concerned in breaches of fiduciary duty and trust by Canehire” and “acting dishonestly" in paying away proceeds of sale that lawfully belonged to beneficiaries of a trust.
The Supreme Court of Queensland had previously made these findings regarding Mr Ham’s conduct in an unrelated proceeding. The conduct was also the subject of subsequent disciplinary action by CAANZ in 2015.
The AAT determined that Mr Ham’s conduct, over an extended period of time, was “inconsistent with the qualities of moral soundness, uprightness and honesty that one would expect of a tax agent.”
According to the TPB, the AAT considered that Mr Ham’s failure to disclose the Supreme Court judgement and the CAANZ decision to the TPB also “weighed against his character.”
Previous conduct can come into play when the TPB is assessing if a tax practitioner is a fit and proper person, said chair of the TPB Ian Taylor.
“The TPB may terminate the registration of a tax practitioner if the TPB is satisfied that a tax practitioner no longer meets the ‘fit and proper person’ requirement for registration,” Mr Taylor said.
“The TPB may consider actions or omissions that occurred prior to the commencement of the board in March 2010 to the extent that the behaviour is relevant to the tax practitioner’s present fitness and propriety,” he said.
Tax agent registration has been the subject of the TPB’s regulatory activity this and last financial year.
Though tax and BAS agents are like are largely compliant, there have been some problem cases which have prompted the TPB to take compliance action. The TPB recently had a win in the Federal Court of Australia, which you can read more about here.
On-time registration is also a principal concern of the TPB. Regulators including the TPB and the ATO have recently encouraged clients to dob in agents they suspect have not completed their registration renewal or applications.