The Tax Office says it is stepping up its enforcement actions under Operation Protego and has urged offenders to come forward or face severe consequences.
Woman jailed for 20 months over $250k GST fraud
A woman who lodged dozens of bogus BAS in an attempt to obtain over $250,000 in GST refunds has received a 20-month prison sentence as the ATO ramps up its Protego enforcement action.
Rachel Saville lost an appeal on Wednesday in the Wollongong District Court against her 20-month sentence by a Port Kembla Local Court judge.
Ms Saville pled guilty to four counts of obtaining benefit by deception after she was caught lodging 63 fraudulent BAS between February and July 2022. She obtained $74,650 in GST refunds and attempted to obtain a further $192,983.
ATO deputy commissioner John Ford said the sentence served as a warning to those who deliberately tried to defraud the government for their own personal gain.
“We take attempts at GST fraud seriously – you will face the full force of the law if you engage in this activity,” he said.
“Tax crime is not victimless and those who engage in this activity are stealing funds that would otherwise be used for essential services. We’ve warned the community and have urged offenders to come forward to the ATO or face even more severe consequences.”
Mr Ford said the ATO has escalated its efforts to crack down on widespread GST fraud, with Ms Saville the latest offender brought to account as part of Operation Protego.
Since its inception in April 2022, the ATO said Operation Protego has stopped approximately $2.5 billion in fraudulent GST refunds and taken action against 56,000 individuals. The ATO said it had also issued over $300 million in penalties and interest.
In August, a Perth man was sentenced to two years in prison after obtaining nearly $110,000 in fraudulent GST refunds, and a Mildura man was sentenced to seven and a half years for obtaining more than $830,000.
“We continue to see results under Operation Protego, this is just the latest and we expect more to come,” Mr Ford said.
“We are escalating our efforts to enforce repayment of [GST] fraud, this includes continuing to work closely with state and federal law enforcement agencies to bring offenders to account.”
“Our message is clear – if you don’t run a business, you don’t need an ABN and you can’t claim GST refunds. This is fraud.”