In the lead up to the end of the financial year, the ACCC has instituted proceedings against Taxsmart Group Pty Ltd, Taxsmart Franchising Pty Ltd and Resultsmart Pty Ltd (‘Taxsmart’) alleging that it published false and misleading graduate job advertisements. The relevant advertisements claimed to provide graduate accountants with the opportunity to obtain a tax agent licence and subsequently operate a Taxsmart franchise.
However, the ACCC alleges that Taxsmart made false representations and did not have reasonable grounds for claiming that:
- its graduate program would satisfy the legal requirements for registration as a tax agent;
- graduates would be employed for a 12 month period;
- graduates would receive one-on-one supervision and mentoring from a registered tax agent;
- it had established offices in the cities where the employment positions were advertised; and
- at least 50 per cent of its clients were business clients.
Taxsmart’s sole director, Scott Andrews, and Taxsmart’s Business Development Manager, Janine Andrews, have also been made parties to the proceeding for their alleged involvement in Taxsmart’s contraventions. The ACCC is seeking a disqualification order against Mr Andrews, amongst numerous other orders in relation to Taxsmart, including injunctions, compensation orders and pecuniary penalties.
ACCC Deputy Chair Dr Michael Schaper has cautioned businesses from engaging in similar conduct in the future, stating “all employers, small or large, need to make accurate representations about the terms of employment and ensure they have a reasonable basis when making representations as to future expectations.”