A 32-YEAR-OLD DEREGISTERED tax professional from Queensland has been sentenced at the Brisbane District Court to three years jail today for fraudulently obtaining $192,140 from the ATO by lodging false Business Activity Statements (BAS) and amendments without her clients’ knowledge. She was also ordered to pay $158,845 in reparations.
Alana Hodge, a formerly registered (BAS) agent, was employed by seven businesses. Ms Hodge was trusted by these businesses to manage their business tax obligations.
She abused their trust by changing the bank account details and contact information in the ATO business portal. She went on to lodge 47 false BAS for seven of her clients without their knowledge between 2015 and 2017.
Assistant Commissioner Adam Kendrick said that tax and BAS agents play a vital role in contributing to and protecting the integrity of the Australian tax and super systems.
“The ATO knows that the majority of registered agents do the right thing, but unfortunately there are some agents who take advantage of their clients for financial benefit,” Mr Kendrick said.
Ms Hodge attempted to obtain a further $65,056 in GST refunds, however, she was unaware the ATO had already received a tip off from one of her client’s accountants and were already undertaking an investigation into the suspicious activity. The funds were not released.
“As demonstrated in today’s case, even registered tax professionals can be dishonest and take advantage of their clients," Mr Kendrick said. "That is why it’s important for the ATO and Tax Practitioners’ Board (TPB) to work together to maintain the integrity of the tax profession and identify those who try to undermine their trusted position.”
The ATO has a program dedicated to identifying and addressing agents whose behaviour has an immediate and ongoing threat to the integrity of the tax and super systems, their clients, and the wider Australian community.
“We want to assure the community we take these matters seriously and work closely with the TPB to combat dishonest behaviour.”
The TPB terminated Ms Hodge’s registration in October 2018 and banned her for the maximum five-year term.
This matter was prosecuted by the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions.
ATO reporting: via the app or by calling 1800 060 062.