Tax Insight: Real and significant risks for tax practitioners who fail to keep their tax affairs up to date

18 January 2019

On 11 December 2018, the Tax Practitioners Board (TPB) announced that it had launched a new compliance campaign targeting tax practitioners (Practitioner) who have outstanding tax obligations. The campaign is set to be fully implemented by February 2019.

Why target registered tax practitioners?

The TPB is concerned that non-compliant Practitioners are undermining trust and confidence in the profession, and the tax system generally. Non-compliant Practitioners may also be more likely to have non-compliant clients.

Data analysis conducted by the TPB has uncovered non-compliance behavior by Practitioners. The statistics are surprising:

  • 5% of all Practitioners have late income tax return and business activity statement lodgments;
  • 7% of all Practitioners have outstanding tax debts which total $115 million and no active payment plan; and
  • 2,700 Practitioners have outstanding self-managed superannuation fund returns (meaning these funds may be non-complying)
What are the consequences?

There is a real and significant risk to a Practitioner’s business if he or she fails to bring their tax affairs up to date. The TPB proposes to grant a short grace period of 6 weeks to enable Practitioners to bring their affairs up to date. However, serious consequences may arise after this time. Practitioners who have outstanding tax obligations (including for associated entities) may be in breach of their professional obligations under the Tax Agent Services Act 2009, specifically Item 2 of the Code of Professional Conduct. In addition, Practitioners could also be subject to deregistration or sanction, audits or investigations, debt recovery and prosecution.

What should you do?

Act fast. Practitioners should bring any outstanding personal and business tax lodgment obligations up to date, and meet all outstanding debts in full or enter into a payment arrangement, by 31 January 2019.

HWL Ebsworth lawyers’ national tax team have experienced professionals who can assist you in managing interactions with the TPB or the ATO. The team has successfully negotiated with the ATO and the TPB in matters involving potential deregistration or sanction, audits or investigations, debt recovery and prosecution of Practitioners.

Please contact us to discuss any aspect of the above.

This article was written by Yan Li Wang, Partner, Vincent Licciardi, Senior Associate and Ellis Rigby, Solicitor.

Yan Li Wang

P: +61 3 8644 3618


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