Tax agent who crossed line ends up in jail

A former tax agent and accountant has been sentenced at the Downing Centre District Court in Sydney to 6 years in jail for claiming more than $800,000 in fraudulent refunds.

Assistant Commissioner Jade Hawkins welcomed the court’s decision, highlighting that Mr Peter Lines had abused his position as a tax agent.

“Mr Lines breached his position of trust. As a registered tax agent of more than 30 years, he had a strong client base, many of whom had trusted him with their tax affairs for decades,” Ms Hawkins said.

Between December 2014 and January 2018, Mr Lines submitted several false tax returns in his clients’ names without their knowledge or consent. He also submitted some valid tax returns for his clients but had the corresponding refunds deposited into bank accounts he controlled.

Mr Lines tried to conceal the offending, including creating a fictitious notice of assessment to mislead a client. Colleagues from his firm first detected a string of abnormal transactions and subsequently alerted the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) and the Tax Practitioners Board (TPB). Those colleagues should be highly commended for doing the right thing by their clients and the broader community.

In total, Mr Lines obtained more than $600,000 in fraudulent refunds and attempted to obtain an additional amount of more than $180,000. As well as having to 6 years in jail, with a non-parole period of 3 years 6 months, he has been ordered to repay $612,648.

The ATO shares an interest in protecting the community and the integrity of Australia’s tax and super system with registered agents, the TPB, and tax professional associations.

“As part of the ATO’s response to the shadow economy, we support tax professionals-and the broader integrity of the profession-by taking appropriate action against the small number of people who do the wrong thing,” Ms Hawkins said.

“Tax professionals play an integral role in supporting the tax and super systems for all Australians. To the small number of tax professionals who don’t follow the rules, know that we will take action against you.”

“We have systems in place to detect fraud but reporting anything you come across can help us stop it before it happens.”

You can anonymously report tax evasion and crime activities by completing a tip-off form on our website or by calling 1800 060 062.

If you are concerned about the conduct of a tax practitioner, you can report them to the Tax Practitioners Board at tpb.gov.au/make-complaint.

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