The Federal Court has ordered a Brisbane woman to stop preparing and lodging income tax returns for a fee whilst not being a registered tax agent.
Franibelle Saludo Ordiales was instructed by the court to cease her actions or she would be liable to imprisonment or other punishments for contempt.
The order was to remain in place until the TPB’s application for penalties and a final injunction is heard by the court.
TBP chair Ian Klug said: “Ms [Ordiales’] behaviour has subjected her clients to significant risk, potentially exposing them to thousands of dollars in taxes and penalties which they are accountable for and will need to repay.”
The TPB said it had notified the clients of Ms Ordiales and is working with Griffith University’s Tax Clinic as they offer free tax advice to those impacted.
Mr Klug also reminded consumers to check if their tax agent is registered before working with them.
“When engaging a tax agent, check the TPB register to ensure the authenticity of the agent’s registration and be wary of promises of a large tax refund,” said Mr Klug. “Never share your myGov password with anyone as doing so puts your personal and financial information at risk.”
Mr Klug said that the TPB would continue with their attention on unregistered agents.
“The TPB will continue to build focus on unregistered preparers and are committed to deterring this conduct by ensuring these preparers are stopped from acting unlawfully and putting consumers at risk,” he said.
“We expect to build upon the success of cases we litigated last year, which included 219 cases of complaints about unregistered preparers who are failing to provide legal and ethical advice to their clients.”
Throughout the year the TPB has been actively pursuing its goal of shutting down unregistered tax agents.
In February the board terminated a Victorian tax agent’s registration after it found she failed to act with integrity by failing to advise the Commissioner of Taxation that she was required to lodge income tax returns for multiple years after misrepresenting her assessable income in those years.
She was also found to have misled the TPB by making false declarations about her outstanding personal tax obligations and meeting the continuing professional education requirements for her registration.
At the time Mr Klug said that tax agents needed to prove they were able to be trusted.
“Acting with honesty and integrity is not just a regulatory requirement, it’s a pillar of the tax practitioner profession,” Mr Klug said.
In March the TPB terminated another tax agent’s registration after his partnership with his wife misappropriated almost $330,000 in client funds.
The tax agent Richard Plaskitt was also found to have allowed client money to be used to make unauthorised payments including tax debts to the ATO and transfers to family members.
When asked about the breaches Mr Klug said that serious action had to be taken.
“Mr Plaskitt prioritised personal gains over his client’s best interests,” he said. “Such egregious conduct warrants the use of the most serious disciplinary sanctions to send a clear message that this behaviour will not be tolerated.”
In June the TPB banned an accountancy firm after they failed their clients and their own tax compliance as well as not cooperating with the connected ATO audit.
At the time Mr Klug reiterated that trust was of the utmost importance of which they had failed.
“This case had some of the worst features of abuse of trust, including failing to provide refunds to clients, and failure to cooperate with the related ATO audit,” said Mr Klug.