The AAT has affirmed a decision of the Tax Practitioners Board (TPB) to not renew the registration of a tax agent on the basis that he was not a “fit and proper” person for the purposes of the Tax Agent Services Act 2009.

The applicant had been a registered agent since 1988, and following complaints made by clients, the TPB commenced an investigation into his conduct. The investigation identified a number of potential breaches including failure to comply with tax laws in relation to the management of his own financial affairs, delays in finalising tax returns for some clients, failure to communicate adequately with each of the complainants, failure to have professional indemnity insurance in place, and failure to respond to certain board correspondence.

The applicant broadly contended that the failings arose from special circumstances and financial stress caused by the global financial crisis, which were temporary and have since been resolved. In addition, he contended that the matters were aberrations in an incident free career of over 25 years as a tax agent.

The Tribunal found that based on the evidence, the applicant demonstrated a number of failures where his conduct had not only fallen short of the code, but where he had also failed to appreciate the significance of his non-compliance or to provide adequate explanation or assurance he will not breach in the future. It said the cumulative effect of the breaches have led to the conclusion that the applicant was not a “fit and proper” person to continue to act as a registered tax agent. Therefore, the TPB’s decision to not renew the applicant’s registration was affirmed.

(AAT Case [2014] AATA 100, Re Grosfeld and Tax Practitioners Board, AAT, Ref No 2013/3566, Redfern SM, 28 February 2014.)

[LTN 41, 3/3/14]