The Tax Practitioners Board (TPB) has banned a Gold Coast-based tax agent for four years for SMSF auditor number (SAN) misuse.
The TPB banned tax agent Edward Mark Purnell-Webb and his company, Superannuation Administration Specialists (Qld) Pty Ltd, after an investigation by the TPB revealed Purnell-Webb had falsely claimed independent audits had been conducted for 172 SMSFs for which he had lodged tax returns.
TPB chair Ian Klug said: “Mr Purnell-Webb has shown himself to be a risk to consumers. The TPB has an important role in consumer protection and maintaining the integrity of the tax practitioner profession. Misconduct of this kind undermines the integrity of the entire SMSF regulatory regime.
The ATO stated the investigation took place after it conducted an audit which identified Purnell-Webb’s deliberate misuse of two SANs through its SAN misuse mail out campaign.
Following the audit the ATO referred the matter to the TPB which stated Purnell-Webb had undermined the superannuation system and “was no longer trustworthy to perform the functions of a registered tax agent.”
“This decision serves as a warning to other tax practitioners who may be thinking of engaging in this kind of egregious behaviour,” Klug added.
In May, the TPB commenced a review of 74 registered tax practitioners believed to have provided false information to the ATO, including misuse of SANs.
The tax practitioners under review were believed to have lodged SMSF annual returns for 2017 and 2018 with either an incorrect or fraudulently recorded SAN.
The ATO had previously referred nearly 90 tax agents to the TPB in relation to behaviour around SAN misuse as part of its investigation of 500 instances of misuse reported by auditors.
Pointing to the banning of Purnell-Webb, ATO deputy commissioner John Ford said: “Approved SMSF auditors have a critical role in helping to maintain the health and integrity of the SMSF sector through the annual audit of each SMSF.
“SMSF trustees deserve to have confidence in the integrity of tax professionals. They expect them to accurately report their information to the ATO. By disregarding the strict rules, they are not only breaking the law, but they are also letting down trustees who have entrusted their affairs to be handled professionally.”