AAT rejects application by former tax agent

The Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) has rejected an application by former tax agent Vanda Gould to stay a Tax Practitioners Board (TPB) decision to terminate his registration with the maximum five-year exclusion.

In December 2018 the TPB found Gould ceased to meet the fit and proper person requirements in the law. This had been due to findings highly critical of him in a decision of the Federal Court of Australia, Hua Wang Bank v Commissioner of Taxation [2014] FCA 1392.

In response to Gould’s application to halt proceedings, the TPB provided evidence from an Australian Tax Office (ATO) investigation named Operation Rubix.

Ian Molloy, AAT deputy president, said: “… concerned with the use of multi-layered off-shore structures based in the UK, Cayman Islands, Bahamas, Samoa and elsewhere by Mr Gould, his associates and clients of his former accounting firm, Gould Ralph, to avoid Australian taxation and to accumulate wealth off-shore.”

The AAT referred to the federal court decision in Hua Wang which pointed to “sustained, calculated and layered dishonesty”.

Michael O’Neill, TPB chief executive officer, said he welcomed the AAT stay decision as Gould continued to appeal his termination.

“This decision by the AAT reminds tax practitioners of their position of trust in the Australian community,” O’Neill said.

“Where the TPB identifies a serious risk to clients, the public or to revenue, we will act to support the public interest.”

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