The Tax Practitioners Board (TPB) has issued the maximum ban of five years to a tax agent and terminated their registration for multiple breaches of the regulatory body’s Code of Professional Conduct, in relation to misuse of COVID-19 relief measures.
Following an investigation resulting from an ATO referral, the TPB found Maricar Santos Rosauro had engaged in serious misconduct rendering her no longer fit to be registered with the regulatory body and giving reason to impose the maximum ban on her of five years from the industry.
Specifically, the board found Rosauro had acted unlawfully and dishonestly with regard to the best interests of her clients relating to the coronavirus stimulus measures after she submitted over 100 business activity statements and 43 JobKeeper applications on their behalf without obtaining the necessary prior authority.
Further, it was determined she did not account to her clients for the funds she obtained from the stimulus provisions in excess of $550,000 and instead used these monies to pay for her personal and business expenses.
The TPB also found the tax agent had breached the taxation laws by failing to declare information to the ATO, to meet her lodgement obligations and to pay her outstanding tax liabilities.
On top of these offences, she was adjudged to have misused the myGov portal in assuming the identity of her clients for the purpose of dishonestly obtaining personal gain, as well as making false statements to the TPB.
“Ms Rosauro’s behaviour is appalling. She jeopardised her clients and the overall integrity of the taxation system,” TPB chair Ian Klug said.
“The TPB acknowledges that the initial introduction of the COVID stimulus measures presented a difficult time for tax practitioners and their clients. Tax practitioners, however, hold a significant position of trust to assist in administering the COVID stimulus measures and Ms Rosauro deliberately took advantage of this position to dishonestly derive benefits for herself.”
The TPB is currently investigating 99 cases regarding potential compliance breaches of the COVID-19 financial hardship measures. Some of these actions involve error or incompetence, while others related to reckless or fraudulent relief claims.
To date six practitioners have been terminated, seven suspended and another three officially cautioned for misconduct regarding the COVID-19 stimulus.