Gold Coast based tax agent sentenced to 3 years for tax fraud
A Gold Coast-based tax agent has been sent behind the bars for three years after swindling nearly $200,000 from the Australian Taxation Office (ATO). The tax agend had lodged false Business Activity Statements (BAS) without her client’s knowledge and had been tipped off to the ATO.
The deregistered tax agent, Alana Hodge, lodged 47 BAS and amendments for 7 of her clients. She changed the contact information and bank account details on the ATO website and managed to receive $192,140 from ATO between 2015-2017. She also tried to claim $65,056 in GST refunds which were denied. She was unaware that she had been tipped off by her client’s accountant and an investigation was underway.
The Tax Practitioner Board (TPB) had terminated her registration in October 2018. She has been banned for the maximum term of 5 years, sentenced to 3 years in jail and ordered to shell out $158,845 in compensation.
Strict warning by the ATO against tax crime
ATO has issued strict warnings against anyone attempting to commit tax fraud and have assured the public that they will be held accountable.
“The ATO knows that the majority of registered agents do the right thing, but unfortunately there are some agents who take advantage of their clients for financial benefit,” ATO assistant commissioner Adam Kendrick said.
This case is one of the many in the series of tax crimes committed by Australians. ATO had received around 209 tip-offs for dodgy behaviour by tax agents in the FY 2018-2019 which led the TPB to terminate the registration of 74 tax agents and prosecution against 12 agents. For more information - mybusiness.com.au
How to spot fraudulent tax agents?
Although it is the responsibility of the taxpayers to manage their financials, ATO can assist victims of tax fraud wherein:
- Fraud has been committed without their knowledge.
- Their identity has been stolen by a third party.
It is easy to spot fraudulent activity by your tax agents. Some common signs make it apparent that your tax agent is indulging in fraudulent activities.
- Requesting your myGov credentials
- Changing your credentials on the ATO website
- Receiving funds on an unauthorized bank account or encouraging you to get refunds on another account
- Lack of timely communication
- Withholding of information pertaining to your tax
- Poor reviews
- Inability to explain claims on your tax returns
If you feel you are a victim of tax fraud, report your tax practitioner to the TPB tpb.gov.au.
You can also call 1800 060 062 or file a complaint anonymously using the ATO app.
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A good tax agent will be able to maximise your tax returns staying within the law. With over 18 years of experience, Bottom Line Control accountants can help you with your business financials. Contact us on 5471 7077 or fill in the enquiry form today.