How to find a tax agent you can trust
As tax time approaches, the Tax Practitioners Board (TPB) is warning of the risks of placing your trust in someone who is not a registered tax agent.
In the latest research conducted by the TPB, public trust in tax agents is high. Around 88 per cent of taxpayers express a high level of trust in their tax agent, with over half of those rating their experience as excellent.
This year, the TPB is recommending taxpayers use their handy guide to take the guess work out of tax time this year.
A current case which is before the Federal Court of Australia, highlights the dangers of dealing with an unregistered preparer.
Nathan Williams, from South Australia, had his tax agent registration terminated at the end of 2018 by the TPB, due to serious misconduct. The TPB’s investigation revealed that Mr Williams had received tax refunds from numerous clients but had transferred the funds to a personal bank account. Chartered Accountants Australia & New Zealand made similar adverse findings against Mr Williams.
Recently, following information provided by the ATO, the TPB commenced proceedings in the Federal Court of Australia against Mr Williams, alleging that, despite no longer being a registered tax agent, he had continued to operate using his clients’ myGov accounts.
Mr Williams would ask his clients for their myGov password and access code before accessing their account to lodge their tax return. On Friday 18 June 2021, the Court issued an interim injunction in the proceedings, preventing Mr Williams from lodging any further tax returns and facing the risk of imprisonment if he breaches the terms of this order.
Ian Klug AM, Chair of the TPB, commented "We know that taxpayers place a lot of trust in tax agents, but we’d warn people to remember the adage that sugar and salt can look the same. Just because someone offers to deliver a large tax refund or has been recommended to you by a friend or colleague doesn’t mean that the person will deliver a competent and legal service."
"The case of Nathan Williams highlights the issue that dealing with an unregistered preparer this tax time can cost you thousands of dollars in bills and penalties and can put your personal and financial information at risk. If anyone asks for your myGov details it should raise an immediate red-flag.
"The TPB urges taxpayers not to share their personal myGov password with anyone, and if they plan to use a tax agent, to make sure they are registered with the TPB."
Three tips from the TPB this tax time
1. Check your tax practitioner is registered on the public register at www.tpb.gov.au/onlineregister.
2. Never share your myGov password with anyone - doing so puts your personal information at risk. You should not be charged by anyone to lodge or prepare your tax return through your myGov account.
3. Refer to the TPB’s useful guide to take the guess work out of tax time
Have you ever dealt with an unscrupulous tax agent? Did you lose any money? Were you able to recover the money?