CHAIR of the Tax Practitioners Board (TPB), Ian Taylor, has today welcomed the decision of the Federal Court in the most recent case of Philip Ham.
Mr Ham was sued by a former client for breaches of ‘fiduciary obligations’ or trust after he derived millions of dollars from the sale of land in which his former client had an interest. He was later disciplined by his professional association and was excluded from membership but failed to disclose these issues to the TPB.
In 2017, the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) affirmed the TPB decision to reject Mr Ham’s renewal application for registration, determining his conduct was "inconsistent with the qualities of moral soundness, uprightness and honesty that one would expect of a tax agent". Mr Ham pursued his case with an appeal to the Federal Court.
Justice Logan dismissed the appeal on Friday and upheld the AAT decision which affirmed the TPB’s rejection of Mr Ham as a tax agent as he was not a "fit and proper person".
Mr Taylor said the Federal Court’s decision confirms the high ethical and professional standards expected of a trusted adviser like a tax practitioner.
"This case is an important reminder for all members of the tax profession to act with competence and integrity, to ensure that the community, the TPB and the ATO can have confidence that services are provided with professionalism," Mr Taylor said.
"Tax practitioners are engaged by three quarters of individual Australian taxpayers and entrusted to manage their tax affairs in compliance with the law. It’s important that agents respect the mutual trust between client, agent and the TPB, and act properly to protect the public and to ensure the integrity of the tax system."
Mr Taylor added that the TPB takes these matters seriously, with around 400 current investigations into tax practitioners across Australia.
"This is particularly important following ATO research linking some tax practitioners with overclaimed deductions, tax avoidance and evasion."
Mr Taylor urged taxpayers with concerns about their tax practitioners’ services to contact the TPB at www.tpb.gov.au/complaints