Tax agent banned over 346 false tax returns

The Tax Practitioners Board has terminated the registration of a Sydney tax agent who lodged 346 fraudulent income tax returns and was paid cash upfront for the services.

Nei Hwa (Peter) Tung of Fairfield in Sydney, a tax agent for 17 years, will not be allowed to re-apply for registration for three years after the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) upheld the decision of the Tax Practitioners Board (TPB).

Tung was found to have prepared the 346 fraudulent returns on behalf of six individuals who claimed to be providing him with information for their friends’ tax returns. He prepared a stunning 102 returns for one individual he knew as Mr Alam.

Tung charged the six individuals between $20 and $70 more than his usual fee for each, he says, depending on how much he was able to save them.

Tung did not ask for identification for any of the 346 mysterious people and originally told investigators that he was unable to provide the surnames of the six individuals who approached him.

AAT presiding member Murray Allen was scathing of Tung’s conduct in his written decision:

“Given the undisputed facts in this matter, the following conclusions are open: That the applicant was well aware that the returns he was lodging were fraudulent; or he suspected that the returns were questionable but decided not to make any further or better enquiries in case his suspicions would be confirmed; or the conduct of his practice is so negligent that he cannot recognise a dishonest scheme even when it should have been apparent to any competent practitioner in his field.”

The chair of the TPB, Dale Boucher, said the decision should send a warning to tax agents that they had a duty to watch for fraud.

“This decision sends a strong warning message to other registered agents. Agents must take reasonable care to check the identity and authority of anyone approaching them to lodge tax returns on behalf of others,” Boucher said.

“We strongly recommend that all tax agents conduct their own proof of identity checks directly with the taxpayers concerned.”

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