Recently I was asked by a client to put a hold on the payment of his employee’s SGC (super guarantee contribution) due to an ongoing dispute between them. I of course, refused to do this because it is illegal to hold SGC payments and/or not pay them at all. Did I do this because I’m a little “Goody Two-Shoes” who always does the right thing? Well, to be honest, there probably is a little bit of that involved, but the real reason why I didn’t play the game with that client is that I am a BAS Agent. As such, I am bound by a strict code of conduct which dictates what I can and cannot do. If being a BAS Agent also means you have to be a “Goody Two-Shoes” then so be it – I’m guilty as charged.
When my client asked me to do the wrong thing on their behalf, I promptly wrote them a letter explaining why I couldn’t help them. This is some of what I wrote:
“By asking me to obstruct the payment of the employee’s SGC, you are putting me in a very difficult position. As a registered BAS Agent, I am bound by the Tax Practitioners Board’s Code of Conduct, particularly the following aspects of the code:
(#4) You must act lawfully in the best interests of your client.
(#11) You must not knowingly obstruct the proper administration of the taxation laws.
(#12) You must advise your client of the client’s rights and obligations under the taxation laws that are materially related to the tax agent services you provide.
What you are asking me to do is not lawful (#4) and does obstruct taxation laws (#11). Again I repeat, as your BAS Agent, you are putting me in a very difficult position. Because I am bound by the above codes of conduct, I must decline your request to hold your employee’s SGG payment to the relevant superannuation fund.”
The Code of Conduct is like an agent’s bible or perhaps more like Moses’ ten Commandments if you will. These are the rules we, as your Tax or BAS Agent, abide by to ensure there is an even playing field for everyone and that the right thing is always done. As in any “game” if the rules are broken, there are consequences for all players. In my case as a BAS Agent, if I openly breach the Code of Conduct, I will be penalised and have my agent licence suspended or even cancelled. This is my livelihood so I am not prepared to risk losing my license for any client regardless of his/her predicament.By being asked to engage in dodgy behaviour, this client and clients like him are actually asking me to put my agent licence on the line. I won’t do this and can’t do this – ever. I am writing this as a warning to all current and future clients. There is no point in asking me to do anything outside the law – it will never happen. If this isn’t something you like hearing or reading, then perhaps we aren’t the right BAS Agent for you. Here at Bookkeepers Bunbury we will always act in your best interests. This means we will always choose to do the right thing and abide by the Code of Conduct as above. And yes, this means we will always be “Goody Two-Shoes”.