The Tax Practitioners Board is now contacting over 2,000 Western Australian taxpayers to offer assistance after they used the services of Jessa Van Stroe, also known as Jessa Layola, who was illegally preparing tax returns.
Ms Van Stroe was ordered by the Federal Court last month to stop preparing and lodging income tax returns, after a TPB investigation leveraging taxpayer data found that she had illegally charged fees in exchange for tax advice services.
To assist affected taxpayers, the TPB has teamed up with Curtin University’s Curtin Tax Clinic (CTC), which are offering free tax advice to people impacted by Ms Van Stroe.
Professor Dale Pinto, head of the taxation discipline in the Curtin Law School, has urged affected taxpayers to urgently review their tax returns to ensure they do not come into the ATO’s crosshairs.
“It is important for anyone who has used the services of unregistered preparers, like Ms Van Stroe, to review their tax returns,” said Professor Pinto.
“Unregistered preparers do not have the necessary skills or expertise to provide tax advice and by using her services these taxpayers have no protection against penalties which could be applied for mistakes Ms Van Stroe may have made.”
The ATO have also called on affected taxpayers to ensure their claims are correct and substantiated and to reach out for help where necessary.
Co-founders of CTC, Annette Morgan and Donovan Castelyn said the National Tax Clinic program was designed to provide pro-bono tax advice to disadvantaged or vulnerable taxpayers.
“CTC is happy to provide free assistance in situations like this as it aims to assist unrepresented taxpayers in meeting or complying with their tax affairs,” they said in a joint statement.
“In return, the experiential learning opportunities for students who work under the supervision of experienced tax practitioners in these situations are most valuable.”
Jotham Lian is the editor of Accountants Daily, the leading source of breaking news, analysis and insight for Australian accounting professionals.
Before joining the team in 2017, Jotham wrote for a range of national mastheads including the Sydney Morning Herald, and Channel NewsAsia.