AAT confirms longstanding agent registration termination
The Tax Practitioners Board has sent a message to agents to keep their personal affairs in order following the disqualification of a longstanding tax agent who had never received any client complaints.
The Administrative Appeals Tribunal has affirmed the Tax Practitioners Board’s decision to terminate the tax agent registration of Richard Hill for failing to comply with his personal tax obligations and for not disclosing it to the board.
Mr Hill, the sole director of DKF Richard Hill Pty Ltd and Forte Financial Pty Ltd, was a former chartered accountant fellow, who had come under investigation by the TPB in 2018, leading to his agent registration being terminated for not being a “fit and proper” person.
The TPB found that Mr Hill was personally culpable for the failure of his various entities to lodge income tax returns and business activity statements, and for failing to pay superannuation guarantee charge payments and liabilities.
Mr Hill was also found to have failed to pay PAYG instalments and had a unpaid tax judgment debt of $319,737.
In reviewing the TPB’s decision, the AAT found that while Mr Hill had not been subject to any material client compliant in his nearly 40 years as a registered tax agent, and had provided pro bono services to non-profit entities, including the Mater Misericordiae Hospital at Crows Nest, the Gordon Rugby Club and a charitable institution known as Empower Golf, it did not compensate for his need to fulfil his personal tax obligations.
“The registration regime is not just about ensuring the technical competence of tax agents and their appropriate service of individual client needs,” said AAT senior member Peter Taylor SC.
“So much may be regarded as implicit in the composite registration eligibility requirements, which emphasise both (i) the ‘fitness’ of the individual — including their financial status, and any honesty-related convictions — and (ii) their competence, experience and insurability.
“It follows that the registration regime is also concerned with ensuring the ‘professional and ethical conduct’ of tax agents.”
However, the AAT decided to set aside the TPB’s decision to impose the maximum five-year period from re-registering, instead replacing it with a two-year embargo from the TPB’s 10 January 2019 decision date.
The AAT noted that Mr Hill had largely remedied or regularised his taxation affairs and took into account the significant length of time in which he provided tax agent services without complaint or criticism from his clients.