ATO's social media swoop set to bear fruit

One national tax and accountancy network believes the ATO’s “sophisticated and comprehensive” trawling of internet data is significantly limiting taxpayers’ chances of getting away with non-compliance.

As reported earlier this week, the ATO has made clear its plans to widen the scope of its search for tax cheats, with the intention of more vigorously checking social media posts, private school records and immigration data.

Although there is no hard data on its success rate, H&R Block’s director of tax communications Mark Chapman is confident in the Tax Office’s chances of catching tax cheats.

“I have no doubt in my mind that the ATO trawls through the internet very comprehensively – so Twitter, Facebook and all those other social media sites,” Mr Chapman said.

Social media in particular is a “really obvious place to look for information”, said Mr Chapman, which the ATO can then compare to an individual’s tax records.

Many taxpayers are game enough to post the purchase of a new house, car or holiday, when they have not declared their income, or the extent of their income, to the ATO.

“Anything that suggests a mismatch between what someone is doing in their private life and what they are doing in their tax returns would set off alarm bells,” Mr Chapman said.

“The ATO would get results from this kind of activity.”

 

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