Dealing with an unregistered tax agent can cost you
As tax-time begins, the Tax Practitioners Board (TPB) is warning the public about the risk of using unregistered tax agents.
It follows cases of 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.
In a recent case, clients of one unregistered agent were subject to potentially millions of dollars in tax bills and penalties by the Australian Taxation Office (ATO).
TPB CEO, Mr Michael O'Neill, said 'Members of the community and tax practitioners frequently report information about the unlawful activities of unregistered agents.
'The TPB take this intelligence very seriously and are currently investigating 37 cases. The worst cases will be brought to the Federal Court of Australia for prosecution.'
Unregistered agents often try to convince potential clients that they can obtain unrealistically large tax refunds.
'If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is,' Mr O'Neill said. 'Using an unregistered tax practitioner can cost thousands of dollars in tax bills and penalties.
'It also means you are not covered by safe-harbour provisions that offer protection against penalties from the ATO when a registered tax practitioner fails to lodge on time or makes a false or misleading statement on your return.
'We urge everyone this tax-time 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.'
Tips from the TPB this tax time
Check your tax practitioner is registered on the public register at www.tpb.gov.au/search-register.
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.
About the Tax Practitioners Board
The Tax Practitioners Board regulates tax practitioners in order to protect consumers. The TPB aims to assure the community that tax practitioners meet appropriate standards of professional and ethical conduct.