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Tax practitioners owe $90m in outstanding debt, TPB ready to pounce


Over $90 million in outstanding debts owed to the ATO by errant tax practitioners will now be investigated by the Tax Practitioners Board, as it moves on to the next step of its debt and lodgment project.

By Jotham Lian 12 minute read

The TPB’s debt and lodgment compliance project for tax practitioners, first announced late last year, has yielded positive initial results, with over 2,000 practitioners updating their outstanding lodgments and repaying “millions” in outstanding debts.

However, TPB secretary and chief executive Michael O’Neill said there are still over 1,200 outstanding lodgment cases, with the board set to shift its focus to deal with such “high-risk” practitioners.

“We’re now focused on those higher-risk practitioners who’ve failed to comply with over 1,200 lodgment cases and others with $90 million in outstanding debts to the ATO,” said Mr O’Neill.


“High-risk practitioners include those who inflate work-related expenses, support the black economy, or who are involved in deliberate fraud and evasion activity.”

The TPB will begin by initiating around 30 investigations seeking to sanction those practitioners who fail to comply with their legal and ethical responsibilities. 

The board will also begin investigating unregistered service providers and pursue matter before the courts.

“Tax practitioners operate in positions of trust in the community, and the majority recognise the importance of complying with the law and maintaining ethical standards,” said Mr O’Neill.

“Seventy-five per cent of Australians seek help from a tax practitioner, and most receive great service.

“The TPB remains concerned about those tax practitioners who have failed to meet their own tax obligations and participate in other high-risk behaviours.”

The TPB’s latest focus comes as the board and the Tax Office look to help level the playing field for the tax and BAS profession.

The ATO have said that there are less than 100 agents who exhibit criminal behaviour, about 500 who are reckless and push the boundaries, and the vast majority who are largely compliant.

Conversely, the TPB’s compliance work for the 2017–18 period resulted in a total number of 287 sanctions, including 24 terminations, up from 17 from the year before, with former TPB chair Ian Taylor noting that the results reflected its commitment to stamping out non-compliant behaviour.

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Jotham Lian

Jotham Lian


Jotham Lian is the editor of Accountants Daily, the leading source of breaking news, analysis and insight for Australian accounting professionals.

Before joining the team in 2017, Jotham wrote for a range of national mastheads including the Sydney Morning Herald, and Channel NewsAsia.

You can email Jotham at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

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