In a recent blog, we discussed how a tax agent in a tax audit can get into trouble under s50-20 of the Tax Agent Services Act (TASA) by making a statement or providing a document to the ATO which is false or misleading.
However, that’s not the end of it. And what comes next will surprise you: Under s50-30 a tax agent signing a declaration or statement in relation to a taxpayer on a document that was not prepared by a registered agent or an individual under the supervision and control of a registered agent is in breach of TASA.
To be clear, this doesn’t require that there be anything false or misleading. It’s just that the document was signed!
The aim of the law is to ensure that any documents and information that go the ATO have been prepared by the tax agent personally, and not by any third party. The penalties are also horrendous – up to 1250 penalty units or $262,500 for each proven offence.
Even more alarming is the treatment of partnerships. If a partner breaches this provision, each partner in the partnership is treated as though they have contravened the provision. The civil penalties for each partner is up to 250 penalty units.
The lesson here is to know who prepared an ATO document that is to be signed.
If you have any questions about tax audits or anything else relevant to practising as a tax agent, please contact a member of Thomson Geer’s Tax Advocacy team.