Unregistered agents undermining COVID-19 package
The TPB has issued a subsequent warning to unregistered organisations against becoming engaged in providing advice or services related to any of the COVID-19 stimulus benefits, such as JobKeeper, cash boost or early release from super.
The Tax Practitioners Board (TPB) has cautioned unregistered agents providing advice that they are in breach of the Tax Agent Services Act and may be liable for a civil penalty imposed by the Federal Court.
The TPB noted that aside from causing harm to clients, legitimate tax practitioners are left at a competitive disadvantage by unregistered advisers offering benefits that are not available under the law.
"Following complaints and through intelligence gathering, we've become aware of organisations providing misleading advice and support on obtaining COVID-19 stimulus benefits, sometimes on a ‘no benefit – no fee’ basis," it said.
"Often such services are promoted through social media channels and are usually bundled with unnecessary services in a subscription or locked-in contract. Some involve businesses with thousands of clients," the TPB reiterated, after issuing a similar warning to businesses and consumers a day earlier.
It explained that offending organisations often incorrectly claim that their advice is ‘assured’ by a registered tax agent, while others may seek personal or confidential information including tax file numbers or myGovID logins, exposing their clients to data theft.
"We will prioritise investigations of unregistered organisations and their agents, who claim to offer help in lodging COVID-19 stimulus related claims and documents," the TPB said, expressing also its concern about the accuracy of the advice being provided.
"If you become aware of a potential scam or unregistered tax practitioner offering stimulus benefit advice, report the situation to us either by email or by calling 1300 362 829 (select option 5).
"All reports will be treated in the strictest confidence."