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How to find a tax agent you can trust

  • June 30 2021
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How to find a tax agent you can trust

By Fergus Halliday
June 30 2021

The Tax Practitioners Board is ending the financial year with a warning.

How to find a tax agent you can trust

How to find a tax agent you can trust

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  • June 30 2021
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The Tax Practitioners Board is ending the financial year with a warning.

How to find a tax agent you can trust

On the eve of a new financial year, the Tax Practitioners Board (TPB) cautioned against using non-registered tax agents. 

“We know that taxpayers place a lot of trust in tax agents, but we’d warn people to remember the adage that sugar and salt can look the same,” said TPB chair Ian Klug.

“Just because someone offers to deliver a large tax refund or has been recommended to you by a friend or colleague doesn’t mean that the person will deliver a competent and legal service,” he said. 

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While 88 per cent of taxpayers hold a high level of trust in their tax agent, the TPB pointed to current proceedings in the Federal Court against Nathan Williams as an example of what can happen when that trust is exploited.

The TPB said that Mr Williams had his tax agent registration terminated at the end of 2018 due to serious misconduct, but has continued to operate using his clients’ myGov accounts.

According to Mr Klug, “Dealing with an unregistered preparer this tax time can cost you thousands of dollars in bills and penalties and can put your personal and financial information at risk.”

“If anyone asks for your myGov details, it should raise an immediate red flag,” he said.

The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) has previously warned against using unregistered tax agents. 

In 2019, ATO Assistant Commissioner Karen Foat said, “These unregistered preparers pose a threat to vulnerable taxpayers and risk the reputation of registered tax agents.”

“They pretend to offer legitimate services to the community, but in reality they pose a serious threat not only to the people that use them, but to the broader community and the tax system as a whole.”

“Unfortunately, we see too many instances where people have unwittingly used an unregistered preparer, which has resulted in a significant tax debt and loss of money. We also see instances where people do not receive their refund, or where fraudulent claims are lodged in their name without their knowledge.”

Speaking to nestegg earlier this month, Ray Jaramis, Employment Hero’s head of financial wellness, said there are several red flags that consumers should keep an eye out for when deciding on their accountant.

“You want the confidence that the accountant understands your problems and is a subject matter expert in the solutions,” he said.

Asked what overlooking these red flags could cost taxpayers, Mr Jaramis said, “Going to a professional accountant doesn’t absolve you of your responsibility as a taxpayer in Australia.”

“The fact of the matter is that if you’re the one signing off that the tax return is true and accurate, then you are going to want to make sure that it is.”

3 tips from the TPB this tax time

  1. Check that your tax practitioner is registered on the public register at www.tpb.gov.au/onlineregister.
  2. 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.
  3. Refer to the TPB’s useful guide to take the guesswork out of tax time.
How to find a tax agent you can trust
How to find a tax agent you can trust
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About the author

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Fergus is a journalist for Momentum Media's nestegg and Smart Property Investment. He likes to write about money, markets, how innovation is changing the financial landscape and how younger consumers can achieve their goals in unpredictable times. 

About the author

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Fergus Halliday

Fergus is a journalist for Momentum Media's nestegg and Smart Property Investment. He likes to write about money, markets, how innovation is changing the financial landscape and how younger consumers can achieve their goals in unpredictable times. 

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