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Government, ATO cash blitz tipped to raise $5bn


The ongoing crackdown on the black economy, which captures businesses with a heavy cash focus, could generate up to $5 billion per annum in Commonwealth revenue, according to new modelling by KPMG.

By Jotham Lian13 minute read

KPMG lead tax partner, Grant Wardell-Johnson, said that by using methodology employed by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the Australian black economy has been estimated to be worth $32 billion per annum.

“A concerted crackdown on the black economy could generate up to $5 billion per annum in additional Commonwealth revenue alone,” said Mr Wardell-Johnson.


“The Commonwealth government has taken steps to bolster the capacity of the ATO to deal with the black economy’s impact on the tax system, suggesting an expected return of around $14 for each $1 in extra ATO resources.

“A 14:1 return is not to be sniffed at. So we urge the allocation of $100 million to $400 million per annum to the ATO for additional enforcement activity,” he added.

“The revenue-to-expenditure ratio of this investment would conservatively be at least 7:1 – so raising additional revenue of $700 million to $2.8 billion – and may be substantially greater. Other taxation revenue for the states and territories would be a further natural consequence.”

Last year, the government’s Black Economy Taskforce released a consultation paper detailing potential policy ideas to stamp out misreporting of tax and superannuation obligations by taxpayers.

Just last month, Minister for Revenue and Financial Services, Kelly O’Dwyer, took recommendations  from the taskforce and introduced a bill aimed at banning electronic sales suppression tools, and extending the current Taxable Payments Reporting System (TPRS) to the courier and cleaning industries.

Mr Wardell-Johnson has further proposed a suite of measures to tackle the black economy, including providing limited amnesty for businesses to voluntarily disclose incorrect tax reporting; and legislating to deny income tax deductions for cash payments to employees, contractors and tradespeople and other service providers.

Further, he has proposed for strengthening the evidentiary requirements for eligibility to obtain an ABN to crack down on their use for sham contracting purposes; making a clean tax history a requirement for participating in federal, state and local government tenders; and banning cash transactions for amounts exceeding $10,000.

According to Mr Wardell-Johnson, the government should also implement a ‘one stop shop’ for all necessary business and employer registrations; and tie vendor rights to maintenance of invoice records and evidence of electronic payment.

“At a time when other revenue measures are struggling for bipartisan support, the proposed crackdown on the black economy is more likely to gain passage through the Senate, generating much-needed additional revenue for budget repair,” said Mr Wardell-Johnson.

“The May budget would be a good time for the federal government to take action on an issue that we, as a society, have ignored for too long.”

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Government, ATO cash blitz tipped to raise $5bn
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Jotham Lian

Jotham Lian


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.

You can email Jotham at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

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