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Finance Investment, Taxation

Tax agent misappropriates millions in client funds

Tax Practitioners Board 2 mins read

Benjamin Carter, a Penrith tax agent, has had his registration terminated with the maximum 5-year ban applied from reapplying to the Tax Practitioners Board (TPB) for registration. Mr Carter misappropriated over $20 million in client funds to support his lifestyle and gambling debts.

The Tax Practitioners Board (TPB) investigation uncovered that Mr Carter, had breached 5 items of the Code of Professional Conduct (Code) by engaging in serious and fraudulent misconduct. During the investigation, the TPB also identified a range of serious criminal offences and referred the matter to the New South Wales Police Force for criminal investigation. The TPB worked closely with the police and Mr Carter was arrested and charged with multiple offences. He is currently before the courts accused of the theft of client funds.

Mr Carter’s Code breaches included knowingly lodging false business activity statements and amendments on behalf of a client without their knowledge. He misled other clients into believing he had lodged their tax returns and advised them that they owed tax debts of almost $490,000. The clients paid this money to Mr Carter, which he then used for his own benefit.

In addition, Mr Carter failed to account for a further $350,000 worth of client refunds and payments from the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) which he received on trust and again used for his own purposes. In another appalling display, he received $440,000 from clients to purchase shares on their behalf but failed to purchase the shares and misappropriated the money.

Mr Carter continued to show disregard for the tax system when he did not meet his own tax obligations, including those of his company, Carters Tax Advisory. He failed to lodge multiple income tax returns, activity statements, superannuation guarantee statements and self-managed super fund returns by their due dates. He failed to pay outstanding tax debts for himself and his company, totalling over $1 million.

Due to all these failures, it was determined he was no longer a fit and proper person. This resulted in Carters Tax Advisory ceasing to meet the registration requirement that all directors be fit and proper. The TPB terminated Carters Tax Advisory’s tax agent registration and imposed a 5-year ban on them reapplying.

Commenting on the case, Chair of the TPB, Mr Peter de Cure AM, said, ‘Mr Carter’s conduct was serious, fraudulent, and demonstrated dishonesty and deception. His actions undermined the integrity of the tax profession and caused detriment to his clients and the ATO. We were not willing to let Mr Carter continue practising as it posed an unacceptable risk to the public.

Mr de Cure went on to say ‘our strong collaboration with our co-regulators and law enforcement is an important part of our compliance work, it enables our combined success in stamping out illegal and unethical behaviour to protect the public.’

The TPB urges anyone who may have used the services of Mr Carter to login to their myGov account and check any tax returns or activities statements lodged by him are correct. If you need help finding a new registered tax agent, use the TPB Register.

About the Tax Practitioners Board

The TPB regulates tax practitioners in order to protect consumers. The TPB aims to assure the community that tax practitioners meet appropriate standards of professional and ethical conduct. Follow us on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook.

Thursday, 21 September 2023

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