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AAT refuses long-standing tax agent’s application ‘in public interest’


The Administrative Appeals Tribunal has refused an FCA’s application to halt the Tax Practitioners Board’s decision to terminate his tax agent’s registration, taking into account the “substantial and prolonged” breaches of taxation law.

By Jotham Lian 10 minute read

***UPDATE*** In April 2020, the Administrative Appeals Tribunal agreed to set aside the decision by the Tax Practitioners Board, and instead suspend Tom Coogan’s tax agent registration for a 12-month period. Following the decision by the TPB to cancel his registration, he completed and lodged all outstanding activity statements and income tax returns and entered into a payment arrangement to clear all outstanding debts owing to the ATO. He complied with all requirements in the consent orders and remains registered as a tax agent.

The TPB had previously terminated the tax agent registration of Thomas Coogan for failing to comply with taxation laws in the conduct of his personal affairs, including failing to cause his company, of which he was a sole director, to lodge and comply with its tax obligations.

As of 18 July, his company has 25 outstanding BAS dating back to April 2017 and three outstanding income tax returns. Outstanding tax debts of the company stood at $686,488.37, including $170,783.32 in income tax debt and $515,705.05 in Client Activity Centre debt.

The company had owed a CAC debt continuously since May 2007, and the last payment towards it was $226.73 in July 2018.

Mr Coogan also failed to pay five Director Penalty Notices (DPN) totalling $357,535.93 by their respective due dates.

While Mr Coogan sold the company in March 2019, none of the funds were used to discharge some of the debt owing to the ATO but was instead used to pay priority creditors.

Mr Coogan, who has been a registered tax agent since 1982, and is a CA ANZ Fellow, currently works as a chief financial officer in a number of companies, including two listed public companies, one unlisted public company and a director and nominee tax agent for a self-managed superannuation fund administration company.

AAT senior member Adria Poljak said that Mr Coogan’s submission that his company’s affairs did not reflect on the conduct of his personal affairs had “limited prospects of success”, noting his personal obligations arising under the DPNs.

Ms Poljak acknowledged Mr Coogan’s long-standing medical condition of a “major depressive illness” in causing his failure to comply with taxation laws but noted that medical evidence did not show that his condition had stabilised.

In refusing the application to stay the termination decision, Ms Poljak said it was for upholding community confidence in the tax profession and it was in the public interest to refuse the application.

“The applicant’s breaches of taxation law in this matter are substantial and prolonged,” Ms Poljak said.

“Despite the applicant’s submission that he only provides tax agent services in a very limited capacity, there is still a risk of him continuing to breach taxation law in the future.”

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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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