The Tax Office has identified some registered tax agents and unregistered agents using taxpayers’ personal login details to access their ATO online account through myGov to lodge tax returns on behalf of their clients.
The practice is rife among unregistered agents posing as legitimate registered tax practitioners who lodge tax returns on behalf of clients, often by accessing their myGov accounts and lodging through myTax.
“MyTax is not an approved lodgement channel for registered agents and is a breach of the ATO online terms and conditions,” the ATO said.
“We will be closely monitoring returns and utilising all of our data matching and collection tools in an effort to identify suspicious patterns of behaviour with lodgements.
“We will seek to identify patterns of behaviour that suggest the use of myGov by unregistered preparers.”
According to the ATO, agents may risk referral to the Tax Practitioners Board if they are discovered using myGov to lodge on behalf of their clients, or without their clients’ knowledge.
The ATO’s warning comes after the TPB highlighted the practice of lodging through myTax by unregistered agents.
Accountants Daily understands the TPB has received seven direct complaints referencing the usage of myGov and myTax to lodge, with 66 such complaints since 2014.
“In context, the amount of complaints doesn’t reflect the level of abuse as we know from other compliance actions, that agents such as Kent Scott Hacker had submitted a large number of client returns in this way,” a TPB spokesperson said.
It is also understood that the TPB does not necessarily have visibility of all complaints or referrals when the ATO or state law enforcement take the lead in treatments.
Court-awarded penalties for breaching tax agent services laws can be as high as $52,500 for each offence by an individual and $262,500 by a company.
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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.