Deregistered tax professional Alana Hodge has been sentenced to three years jail for fraudulently obtaining $192,140 from the Australian Tax Office (ATO), by lodging false business activity statements (BAS) and amendments without her client’s knowledge.
The 32-year-old from Gold Coast was sentenced by the Brisbane District Court and ordered to pay $158,845 in reparations.
Hodge was employed by seven businesses to manage their business tax obligations, and had changed the bank account details and contact information in the ATO business portal.
She had lodged 47 false BAS for seven of her clients without their knowledge between 2015 and 2017.
Hodge attempted to obtain a further $65,056 in goods and services tax (GST) refunds but was unaware she had already been tipped-off from one of her client’s accountants and there was already an investigation.
The Tax Practitioners Board (TPB) terminated Hodge’s registration in October 2018 and banned her for the maximum five-year term.
Adam Kendrick, ATO assistant commissioner, said that tax and BAS agents played 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,” Kendrick said.
“As demonstrated in today’s case, even registered tax professionals can be dishonest and take advantage of their clients.
“That is why it’s important for the ATO and the TPB to work together to maintain the integrity of the tax profession and identify those who try to undermine their trusted position.”