The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) is warning taxpayers to keep an eye out for people posing as tax agents who are not registered with the Tax Practitioners Board (TPB).
Assistant Commissioner Karen Foat is concerned about a number of people claiming to be tax agents, often promising refunds that sound too good to be true, or providing discounted services much cheaper than legitimate registered tax agents.
“These unregistered preparers pose a threat to vulnerable taxpayers and risk the reputation of registered tax agents,” Ms Foat said. “They pretend to offer legitimate services to the community, but in reality they pose a serious threat not only to the people that use them, but to the broader community and the tax system as a whole.”
“Unfortunately, we see too many instances where people have unwittingly used an unregistered preparer, which has resulted in a significant tax debt and loss of money. We also see instances where people do not receive their refund, or where fraudulent claims are lodged in their name without their knowledge.”
Unregistered preparers often use a taxpayer’s personal login details to access their ATO Online account through myGov to lodge tax returns. A legitimate tax practitioner will never ask for your myGov credentials – they use dedicated ATO online services to lodge returns for their clients.
The ATO is working closely with the TPB, as well as law enforcement agencies throughout Australia, to identify and put a stop to unregistered preparers.
“To protect yourself and keep your personal information safe, it is important to check with the TPB to see if an agent is registered. You can easily check an agent’s registration online at TPB.gov.au.
Remember, only registered tax agents can charge a fee to prepare and lodge your tax return” Ms Foat said.
Follow these 3 tips to protect yourself from people falsely claiming to be tax agents:
1. Check your tax agent is registered – go to www.tpb.gov.au/search-register.
2. Protect your myGov login details and password – you should not share these details with anyone, including your tax agent. Registered tax agents can access the information they need themselves via our portals.
3. Know your tax affairs – you can log into myGov to check your tax affairs at any time, including reviewing your return and refund details, or you can contact your registered tax agent or the ATO.
If you know of someone providing tax agent services for a fee or other reward who is not registered, you can let the TPB know at tpb.gov.au/complaints, or make a tip-off to the ATO at ato.gov.au/tipoff.