A 56-year-old former Beaumaris tax agent was yesterday sentenced to five years’ jail for tax fraud, after pleading guilty to taking more than $4.1 million from his clients and the Australian Tax Office.
Richard Hogg was sentenced in the Melbourne County Court for promoting a tax avoidance scheme to a select group of his clients, many of whom were small businesses.
Following a tip-off from the community, the ATO used data matching to uncover the extent of Mr Hogg’s wrongdoing. This included comparing internal ATO data and bank statement analysis to identify which of his clients were caught up in the scheme.
ATO Deputy Commissioner Will Day welcomed the sentence handed down and said it was commensurate with the seriousness of Mr Hogg’s crimes.
“The sentence is a testament to the ATO’s resolve to uncover and prosecute the most egregious tax crimes, like those committed by Mr Hogg,” Mr Day said.
“The stories which have been told to the court during this trial demonstrate Mr Hogg’s complete disregard for the best interests of his clients and for honest Australian taxpayers who pay their fair share.
“In this case, our sophisticated approach to data matching enabled us to easily identify transactions which didn’t quite look right and to act swiftly to investigate them further.
“By analysing Mr Hogg’s client list, we quickly identified 40 taxpayers out of his 1600 clients who were likely to have participated in the scheme.
“As a result, we were able to contact those taxpayers individually and work with them to correct their past tax returns, and to get their tax affairs back in order.”
The vast majority of taxpayers caught up in the scheme made voluntary disclosures and received reduced or no penalties as a result.
Mr Day said the ATO has a strong commitment to protecting honest taxpayers by identifying and prosecuting any tax agents who abuse their position of trust by either conspiring with or against their clients to defraud the tax system.
“Tax agents have an important role to play in contributing to the integrity of the tax system as a whole,” Mr Day said.
“The ATO will continue to work with tax professionals to ensure the integrity of the system and to protect honest tax professionals and the community from these types of crimes.”
If a taxpayer suspects or is aware of anyone who is involved in tax fraud, they can report it confidentially at ato.gov.au/reportaconcern or call 1800 060 062.