Tax agent banned for rorting $20k from cash flow boost stimulus
The Tax Practitioners Board (TPB) has terminated the company registration of Sydney-based agent TLL Tax for attempting to rort the cash flow boost stimulus and banned them for two years.
The TPB determined TLL breached the Code of Professional Conduct in the Tax Agent Services Act 2009 relating to competency, honesty and integrity and noted TLL attempted to rort the COVID-19 stimulus cash flow boost for over $20,000.
The investigation into the case focused on two clients and highlighted that TLL had breached the TPB’s Code of Professional Conduct in the following ways:
· TLL had changed the bank account details of its clients to those of the agent's company director, Liying Tong, without authority.
· Lodged income tax returns and business activity statements on behalf of one client who was no longer trading, without their knowledge or authorisation, which included false amounts.
· When confronted by the first client TLL subsequently lodged unauthorised amendments to the client’s tax returns and business activity statements.
· Lodged a further business activity statement for the second client, reporting an amount that the client was not aware of and which could not be substantiated.
In the investigation, it was found that two days after the falsified refund had been received, Ms Tong had contacted the first client and made an offer to purchase the client’s business, which the client declined.
Following this, Ms Tong offered to apply for COVID-19 related stimulus funds in return for a commission, despite knowing that the client was ineligible to receive the stimulus benefits as it had not been trading.
With the second client, TLL had reported false turnover amounts, to dishonestly qualify them to receive a cash flow boost payment, which it was not eligible to receive.
Unjustified cash flow boost and GST claims of over $20,000 were subsequently paid into a bank account held by the company’s director, Ms Tong.
This payment was retained by the agent and transferred to another of their accounts and not passed onto the client.
TPB chair, Ian Klug AM, said the misconduct of TLL and Ms Tong was of grave concern to the TPB.
"To fraudulently claim COVID-19 stimulus payments affects the entire Australian community and takes advantage of the pandemic situation we are all living under," Mr Klug said.
"Ms Liying Tong was in a position of trust, operating in an uncertain environment, and she abused that trust."
The TPB is asking that if people become aware that an agent is attempting to make a fraudulent claim against the COVID-19 stimulus measures that they contact the TPB immediately.