AAT refuses stay application for director of SMSF firm
The Administrative Appeals Tribunal has refused an application by the director of an SMSF administration firm to halt the Tax Practitioners Board’s decision to terminate his tax agent’s registration.
In May this year, the Tax Practitioners Board decided to terminate the tax agent registration of Thomas Coogan for failing to comply with taxation laws in the conduct of his personal affairs, including failing to cause his company, of which he was a sole director, to lodge and comply with its tax obligations.
Mr Coogan has been a registered tax agent since 29 April 1982. He also the chief financial officer (CFO) of IRBS Holdings Pty Ltd (IRBS) and its associated companies and entities. He is also the CFO of two listed public companies, one unlisted public company and a director and nominee tax agent for an SMSF administration company.
As of 18 July, his company, Coogans Pty Ltd, had 25 outstanding BAS dating back to April 2017 and three outstanding income tax returns. Outstanding tax debts of the company stood at $686,488.37, including $170,783.32 in income tax debt and $515,705.05 in Client Activity Centre debt.
The company had owed a CAC debt continuously since May 2007, and the last payment towards it was $226.73 in July 2018.
Mr Coogan also failed to pay five Director Penalty Notices (DPN) totalling $357,535.93 by their respective due dates.
While Mr Coogan sold the company in March 2019, none of the funds were used to discharge some of the debt owing to the ATO but was instead used to pay priority creditors.
Mr Coogan, who has been a registered tax agent since 1982, and is a CA ANZ Fellow, currently works as a chief financial officer in a number of companies, including two listed public companies, one unlisted public company and a director and nominee tax agent for a self-managed superannuation fund administration company.
AAT senior member Adria Poljak said that Mr Coogan’s submission that his company’s affairs did not reflect on the conduct of his personal affairs had “limited prospects of success”, noting his personal obligations arising under the DPNs.
Ms Poljak acknowledged Mr Coogan’s long-standing medical condition of a “major depressive illness” in causing his failure to comply with taxation laws but noted that medical evidence did not show that his condition had stabilised.
In refusing the application to stay the termination decision, Ms Poljak said it was for upholding community confidence in the tax profession and it was in the public interest to refuse the application.
“The applicant’s breaches of taxation law in this matter are substantial and prolonged,” Ms Poljak said.
“Despite the applicant’s submission that he only provides tax agent services in a very limited capacity, there is still a risk of him continuing to breach taxation law in the future.”