Between July and December 2018, the ATO’s tax crime investigations identified 17 individuals, including a former tax agent, who were guilty of tax evasion or claiming refunds or refunds that they were not entitled to.
The longest jail sentence was awarded to a Queensland man who was sentenced to six years in jail for lodging false business activity statements for two companies and receiving GST refunds he was not entitled to. He has been ordered to make reparation of $820,241.
Former tax agent Md Zahidul Kabir was sentenced to five years in jail for taking more than $75,000 from his clients and the ATO by fraudulently using his clients’ tax file numbers to lodge false tax returns resulting in the wrongful payment of tax refunds into his own bank accounts.
Fraudulent claiming of work-related expenses also made the list, hinting at the ATO’s crackdown towards such wayward claims, with one taxpayer claiming $2,306 that he was not entitled to.
The taxpayer attempted to substantiate his false claims during an ATO audit by providing a fabricated document. He was eventually convicted of two charges and given a three-month suspended jail sentence.
Just last week, a Perth CPA was sentenced to four years’ jail for obtaining and attempting to obtain over $250,000 in total from his clients and the ATO.
Individuals that are looking to disclose information to the ATO on tax avoidance behaviour and other tax issues will now be covered under a new protection regime after new legislation passed Parliament last week.
All that is required is that an eligible whistleblower has reasonable grounds to suspect that the relevant information indicates tax misconduct and that it would assist the Commissioner or the eligible recipient in performing their duties if they knew about it.
Such information may include details of non-compliance with a tax law, tax evasion, a scheme set up to avoid tax, unexplained wealth, or any other tax-related misconduct.
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.