Tax Practitioners' Board warns on business activity statements – unregistered tax agents pose a liability to SMEs
Businesses have been warned to ensure their Business Activity Statements (BAS) are being prepared by officials registered with the Tax Practitioners Board – or risk losing out on some key legal protections.
The Federal Government introduced new laws last year requiring anyone preparing a BAS to be registered with the TPB. While agents still have the ability to register under the transitional period until February 28, 2013, experts are warning agents to register as soon as possible.
"There are significant risks to you and your business if your BAS agent is not registered," the TPB has said in a statement.
Some of these risks include disqualification from protection available under Safe Harbour provisions, which are administered by the ATO.
If a BAS agent is not registered, and prepares a statement, they are acting illegally, and more importantly, may not have professional indemnity insurance cover. This can protect both you and them in the case something goes wrong with your statement and the ATO wants to question you.
CPA Australia head of policy Paul Drum told SmartCompany this morning businesses need to ensure that their agents are registered. If they are, confirming this won't be a problem.
"They'll have a certificate, and they'll have a registered number. A person can actually go online and check whether their agent is registered or not, but they should be able to show it anyway."
The problem, Drum says, is that a number of agents have chosen not to register.
"How big that number is, we don't know. But the expectation is that there could be a lot of statements prepared by unregistered tax practitioners."
The TPB told SmartCompany this morning that some signs you're dealing with an unregistered agent include them not issuing proper invoices, or incomplete invoices, and only dealing in cash.
Some agents may claim they're lodging statements through another agent you haven't actually spoken with.