The Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) has affirmed the Tax Practitioner Board’s (TPB) decision to reject Suthakaran Thanabalasingam’s application for tax agent registration.
Mr Thanabalasingam claimed he had received relevant experience under the supervision of Darren Gleeson – a now terminated Western Australian tax agent.
At the time of his termination, Mr Gleeson was the director and supervising agent of a company named TaxSuccess, the franchisor of Success Tax Professionals. Mr Thanabalasingam worked as an operator of a Success Tax Professionals franchise in NSW. He said he worked there with a view to obtaining relevant experience so he could apply for tax agent registration.
In considering Mr Thanabalasingam’s experience, the AAT reasoned that he could not have worked under adequate supervision and control while operating the Success Tax Professional franchise as Mr Gleeson and TaxSuccess’ tax agent registrations had both been terminated, in part, for their failure to provide just that.
The AAT also noted that Mr Thanabalasingam did not provide evidence about how he was subject to Mr Gleeson’s supervision and control.
Chair of the TPB, Ian Klug AM said this case serves as a timely reminder for those wishing to obtain tax agent registration relying upon work experience obtained under a registered tax agent.
“They must be able to demonstrate that the experience was obtained under sufficient supervision and control. Otherwise, the experience may not count,” Mr Klug said.
“We are concerned that some existing tax practice arrangements are taking advantage of those wishing to become registered tax agents by enticing them to effectively pay to obtain relevant experience, for example as a tax practice franchisee and then not providing the appropriate supervision and control for the experience to actually count.
“Exercising proper supervision and control not only helps companies and partnerships to detect errors and potential misconduct, but also provides future agents with the appropriate hands-on experience and skills they need to support the community and uphold the integrity of the tax system.”
Those wishing to register as a tax agent are encouraged to read the TPB’s guidance on relevant experience and what to look out for particularly in relation to franchise arrangements. Tax practitioners are also encouraged to read the TPB’s guidance on supervision and control to ensure they are meeting their obligations.
Tony Zhang is a journalist at Accountants Daily, which is the leading source of news, strategy and educational content for professionals working in the accounting sector.
Since joining the Momentum Media team in 2020, Tony has written for a range of its publications including Lawyers Weekly, Adviser Innovation, ifa and SMSF Adviser. He has been full-time on Accountants Daily since September 2021.