Bookkeeper fined $30,000 for acting as unregistered agent
A NSW man has been ordered to pay $30,000 in penalties by the Federal Court of Australia for breaches of the Tax Agent Services Act 2009. Despite not being a registered tax agent or BAS agent, the man represented himself to clients as a registered agent on numerous occasions. He also prepared and lodged 49 income tax returns and Business Activity Statements (BAS) for a fee, without being a registered BAS or tax agent.
The Court found the defendant’s actions were deliberate, and he had consciously misused a registered tax agent’s tax portal (without that agent’s knowledge) in order to get around the problem of not being a registered BAS or tax agent himself.
The seriousness of the penalties reflects the Tax Practitioner Board’s desire to protect the community from the actions of unregistered individuals acting as agents. Registered agents must meet standards of professional and ethical behaviour, and are bound by a Code of Professional Conduct.
As we’ve previously explained in our article, How to Become a Registered BAS Agent, bookkeepers need a combination of training and experience in order to qualify to register as a BAS agent:
BAS Agent Registration Requirements (For Individuals)
- • You must be at least 18 years of age to apply for BAS Agent Registration.
- • You must be a ‘fit and proper person’
- • You must have relevant work experience
- • You must be qualified
There are TWO training options to qualify for BAS Agent Registration
- • You must have been awarded a Certificate IV in Financial Services – Bookkeeping or Accounting – from a Registered Training Organisation or equivalent,
- • You must complete a TPB approved course in basic GST/BAS taxation principles. This course can be included in your Certificate IV in Financial Services course
- • You must have been awarded a higher qualification than a Certificate IV in Bookkeeping or Accounting, also from a Registered Training Organisation or equivalent,
- • You must complete a TPB approved course in basic GST/BAS taxation principles. This course can be included in your higher award course.
You MUST satisfy one of these two training requirements.
Tax and BAS agents prepare a number of sensitive legal documents, so it’s not surprising that experience is also a prerequisite for registration. In order to qualify for registration, you’ll need to demonstrate working experience:
- • as a registered tax agent or BAS agent;
- • under the supervision and control of a registered tax agent or BAS agent;
- • of another kind, approved by the TPB.
Work experience must include substantial involvement in the one or more of the BAS services defined by the Tax Agent Services Act (2009). The actual time required includes:
- • 1400 hours relevant experience in the last 3 years; or
- • 1000 hours relevant experience in the last 3 years if you are a voting member of a recognised BAS Agent association or a recognised tax agent association.
BAS Agent Courses
Inspire Education offers two eligible courses to help you complete your BAS agent training requirements:
Both of these courses include optional, but ESSENTIAL units covering GST, BAS and payroll:
- FNSBKG404A Carry out business activity and instalment activity statement task, and
- FNSBKG405A Establish and maintain a payroll system
Tax Agent Registration Requirements
For more information about tax agent registration requirements, check out the Tax Practitioners website here.
How to check if you or your tax agents are registered as a BAS or tax agent
The Tax Practitioners Board maintains an online register of tax and BAS agents in Australia. You can check whether your registration is up to date, or whether your bookkeeper is registered, by going to the Online Tax and BAS Agent Register.
If you do not believe your agent is registered, or you feel the services they’ve provided have not been to an appropriate ethical or professional standard, then you are able to make a complaint to the Tax Practitioners Board.