COVID-19 stimulus measures, including JobKeeper, the cash flow boost and early access to super, accounted for 16 per cent of around 75,000 tip-offs received by the ATO since 1 July 2019, with JobKeeper information forming the vast majority of such tip-offs.
The top five categories of JobKeeper tip-offs received relate to allegations that employers are not passing on the full $1,500, allegations that businesses have not met the turnover requirement, fair work issues, employee eligibility and the “one in, all in” principle.
According to the ATO, specialised teams have now been developed to act on government stimulus measures tip-offs, ensuring faster investigations and resulting actions.
Of the 56,000 tip-offs made to the ATO in the 2019–20 financial year, 71 per cent were analysed and deemed as suitable for further investigation by specialised teams and taskforces within the ATO, such as the Black Economy Standing Taskforce, Illicit Tobacco, Financial Crimes and Phoenix Taskforces.
The top five industries reported for the 2020 financial year were building and construction, cafés and restaurants, hairdressing and beauty services, cereal grain wholesaling, management advice and related consulting services, and road freight transport.
The ATO has now urged taxpayers to continue reporting illegal behaviour, including around stimulus measures such as JobKeeper or the JobMaker hiring credit.
Illegal phoenix arrangements will also come under the spotlight over the next 12 months, with the community urged to keep an eye out for companies deliberately liquidating and re-forming a business to avoid obligations.
Tax professionals concerned about other practitioners have also been urged to send information to the ATO, particularly where they have heard about clients being offered potential tax avoidance schemes.
According to the ATO, good tip-offs include an individual’s or business’s name, address, ABN, phone number, social media details, and details of the alleged illegal behaviour.
Members of the community can make a tip-off through the ATO’s online form, writing to them, or phoning the Tax Office.
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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.