The Tax Practitioners’ Board (TPB) has grappled with the challenge of identifying unregistered tax service providers. 

The government body’s  2022-23 annual report says that while the TPB only partially achieved its goal of identifying these unregistered preparers (URP), it exceeded expectations in conducting investigations.

The TPB had set a target of identifying 62 unregistered preparers but could only locate 30 individuals operating outside the tax agent system. 

However, the number of investigations surpassed expectations, with 53 investigations initiated against a target of 15.

The low number of rogue operators identified was partly attributed to delays in the development of a software tool aimed at assisting both the TPB and the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) in recognising trends indicative of URP activities. 

The tool is designed to analyse select indicators and attributes of ATO data, providing an early warning system for detecting unregistered tax agent activities in near-real-time.

Despite the challenges, the TPB's investigations yielded results during the fiscal year. 

Two unregistered preparers faced injunction orders and civil penalties, while 17 others were persuaded to cease providing unregistered tax agent services.

The TPB's use of technology solutions enabled it to surpass its self-generated case target. The TPB aimed to generate over 350 cases but managed to initiate 494 cases. 

The TPB's proactive monitoring of media and court outcomes, along with intelligence from other agencies, informed its compliance activities and broader work program.

Furthermore, the TPB has collaborated with data scientists to enhance its risk assessment processes, allowing for earlier intervention in suspicious cases and increased consumer protection.

More details are accessible here.