ATO, Tax

TPB warns against unregistered tax agents

TPB; unregistered; tax agents

The Tax Practitioners Board has warned of an increase in the number of unregistered tax agents and spelled out the dangers for consumers using them.

The Tax Practitioners Board (TPB) has taken the opportunity to alert people about the dangers of using unregistered tax agents when looking to lodge their tax returns for the 2019 financial year.

The warning comes on the back of instances where the TPB has seen non-registered practitioners pose as legitimate tax agents and offer to lodge returns through the myGov and myTax portals.

“Members of the community and tax practitioners frequently report information about the unlawful activities of unregistered agents,” TPB chief executive Micahel O’Neill said.

“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,” he added.

Further, the TPB noted using an unregistered tax agent can sometimes lead to liabilities and penalties levied by the ATO and payable by the taxpayer as happened in a recent court case.

According to the industry body, the promise of an unrealistically large refund is often how an unregistered agent looks to engage a particular taxpayer.

“If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Using an unregistered tax practitioner can cost thousands of dollars in tax bills and penalties,” O’Neill said.

“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.”

To avoid the possibility of using an unregistered tax agent, the TPB has recommended individuals make sure the person whose services they are seeking is registered with the sector body.

In addition, it has implored taxpayers not to share their myGov password with anyone.

The warning comes after the TPB recently suspended six tax agents for failing to lodge their returns on time.

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