Local News

ATO crack-down on Far South Coast businesses

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The following is a media release from the tax office, we received this morning. They say they will notify businesses before visiting. 

"The Australian Taxation Office today announced that it plans to visit around 300 businesses in Bega and the Far South Coast of New South Wales in November. Assistant Commissioner Peter Holt said the visits are designed to protect honest businesses in the region from unfair competition as a result of black economy activity. In addition to Bega, businesses in Bemboka, Bermagui, Brogo, Candelo, Cobargo, Eden, Merimbula, Pambula, and Tura Beach may be visited in November.

“We’ve been tipped off that some businesses on the south coast are dabbling in the black economy by doing things like demanding cash from customers, refusing to provide tax invoices for sales, and under-reporting income to us,” Mr Holt said. The ATO is particularly likely to visit cafés and restaurants, hair and beauty salons, carpenters and hotels and motels on the south coast. Businesses who are not declaring income, not complying with their tax and super obligations or underpaying workers are contributing to the black economy.

“The Black Economy Taskforce estimates that the black economy is costing the community as much as $50 billion, which is approximately three percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP). “This is money that the community is missing out on for vital public services like hospitals, roads, welfare, and schools.” The ATO’s upcoming visits on the South coast are all about protecting honest businesses by ensuring all businesses are playing fair and competing on a level playing field. “We’ve crunched the numbers and there are a higher than average proportion of businesses in this part of New South Wales with overdue income tax returns and business activity statements.

We also suspect a higher than average use of cash by businesses on the south coast. These are black economy warning signs.” “Visits should only take about thirty minutes and we may discuss record-keeping and payment facilities, outstanding lodgments, tax debts, and managing employee entitlements such as superannuation,” Mr Holt said. The visits are part of the ATO’s strategy to deal with the black economy. The ATO plans to visit around 10,000 businesses this financial year in all states and territories, across a variety of industries. As part of the visits, ATO officers will also be providing information about recent changes, such as Single Touch Payroll and the extension of the Taxable Payments Reporting System to certain industries. 

“As part of our business visits, we attempt to notify businesses about our visits before we arrive, for example, by phone, SMS, email or letter. This includes an invitation to come to an information session to find out more.” The ATO will also be running a “Tax Essentials” information session tailored to support small businesses. “There have been a few changes for small businesses recently in terms of tax so our Essentials session may be a helpful way to brush up on some basics and ensure you’re keeping on top of your tax obligations.” Officers will carry identification. This is a hard plastic card with the coat of arms, the name of the officer and their photograph, and an expiry date. There is also an Australian Government watermark on the card itself.