Global data, analytics and technology company Equifax has signed an agreement with the ATO to receive commercial tax default data so that it can be displayed in credit reports.
The data, which was previously unavailable, will give customers the chance to evaluate risk more accurately during the credit application process.
Equifax’s general manager commercial and property services Scott Mason said the data would be incredibly valuable to customers because tax debts were often the last “bill” that businesses paid.
“This means that outstanding tax debts indicate either an inability to pay, or a wilful decision not to pay tax – both indicators of risk that our customers will now have greater oversight of,” he said.
Mr Mason said the ATO deal had taken “almost a decade of discussion” and the data would help anyone who used Equifax insights.
The ATO had approximately $38 billion in collectable debt, with small businesses accounting for more than $24.3 billion, at the end of last June.
Mr Mason said the ATO was looking to step up collection after a grace period during COVID and increased access to data was important to help businesses navigate debt compliance.
“Understanding a company’s tax information is a vital piece of the puzzle for organisations wanting to manage their credit risk in relation to new and existing customers,” he said.
“The ATO may report a business tax debt to credit reporting bureaus if it meets the criteria where it has an ABN and is not an excluded entity, has one or more tax debts and at least $100,000 is overdue by more than 90 days or is not engaging with the ATO to manage its tax debt.”
The ATO encourages taxpayers with tax debts to speak with their registered tax practitioner or call the ATO on 13 11 42 (8am to 6pm local time, Monday to Friday). More information is available on the ATO’s website ato.gov.au/disclosurebusinesstaxdebt.
Equifax will now join CreditorWatch that is currently one of the only credit reporting bureaus in Australia collecting ATO tax debt default data.
CreditorWatch has been integrating this ATO data into its suite of credit reporting and monitoring tools, including the new RiskScore product.
Tony Zhang is a journalist at Accountants Daily, which is the leading source of news, strategy and educational content for professionals working in the accounting sector.
Since joining the Momentum Media team in 2020, Tony has written for a range of its publications including Lawyers Weekly, Adviser Innovation, ifa and SMSF Adviser. He has been full-time on Accountants Daily since September 2021.