ATO steps up action on ‘dodgy claims’

The ATO has warned accountants it will be using new technologies and methodologies to catch out tax agents found to be inflating their clients’ deductions to generate larger returns.

ATO assistant commissioner Graham Whyte said while most tax agents do the right thing, the ATO has continued to identify instances where tax professionals are deliberately making incorrect claims for clients.

“Sometimes the ATO identifies tax agents offering special deals, inflating claims to generate larger refunds,” said Mr Whyte.

He added that the ATO will be taking action against any tax professionals making these types of “dodgy claims”.

This year the ATO has introduced real-time checks of deductions for tax returns completed online, which will help identify claims that are substantially higher than those of other people with similar occupations and income.

“Every tax return is scrutinised using increasingly sophisticated tools and data analytics developed by our ‘data doctors’ at the ATO,” said Mr Whyte.

“This means we can identify and review income tax returns that may omit information or contain unreasonable deductions.”

During the 2014-15 financial year, the ATO conducted around 450,000 reviews and audits of individual taxpayers, which led to revenue adjustments of over $1.1 billion in income tax, according to Mr Whyte.

“Cases involved omitted income or over-claimed entitlements like deductions,” he said.

Responding to the ATO announcement, Tax Institute president Arthur Athanasiou said accountants play an important role in assisting taxpayers with complex tax laws.

“They improve the accuracy of tax returns lodged with the ATO by advising taxpayers on what they can and can’t properly claim,” said Mr Athanasiou.

 

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