Unpaid tax: even the professionals aren’t immune
A recent information sheet from the Tax Practitioners board has raised the issue of non-compliance with tax laws by tax professionals, who may be at risk of having their registration terminated if their personal affairs aren’t in order.
Even tax professionals sometimes aren’t clear on their obligations to the ATO
According to a publication from the Australian Government Tax Practitioners Board, more than 5,000 accountants have failed to keep their own tax affairs in order. Additionally, the ATO has pinned at least part of the $8.7 billion individual unpaid tax ‘gap’ on errors made by the tax agent population.
Tax agents with unpaid debts or who haven’t lodged a personal income tax return have from now until 31 January to get their affairs in order before a major blitz from the Tax Practitioners Board
Understandably, it can often be difficult to meet all of one’s tax obligations, especially if there are complicating factors such as private businesses, self-managed super funds, multiple investments, offshore holdings, and so on. Combined, the tax legislation in Australia comes to many thousands of pages.
Additionally, even if you deal with tax in a professional capacity, dealing with your own tax affairs can be a different thing owing to the lack of ‘arms-length’ emotional separation afforded by a professional relationship. It’s the same reason why doctors frequently smoke and off-duty policemen speed.
Ultimately, tax practitioners are like any other people. Tax agents who continue to risk non-compliance with taxation laws may be operating in breach of the tax agent code of conduct, however, and are at risk of failing to meet their requirements to be a fit and proper person and having their tax agent registration terminated.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a tax professional or at a total loss when it comes to tax time – it’s important to ensure that your affairs are in order and that all your tax obligations are being met. It’s imperative to address any tax issues as soon as possible to avoid any problems with the ATO from becoming too big to handle.
Adrian Bambrick is a tax and tax administration expert and we can provide you with prompt advice as to your rights and responsibilities if you’ve received any warnings or notices from the ATO.