No business owner enjoys compiling their quarterly BAS, but falsifying these records could result in much more than a slap on the wrist, as several people have learnt the hard way.
In compiling a list of 14 individuals who were or are presently being prosecuted for serious tax crime, three were arrested for fiddling the figures on their Business Activity Statement (BAS).
Three years’ jail was given to a Queensland man after being found guilty on two charges of falsifying his BAS to generate refunds worth $217,134.
WA residents Bronwyn Robins and Benjamin Kane were separately found guilty of fraudulent BAS activity. Each escaped prison but were handed $5,000 fines.
Aside from BAS statements, other business leaders faced court for a range of activities including avoiding paying tax and claiming false grants and deductions.
A 42-month jail term, with a 14-month non-parole period, and a reparation order for more than $1.42 million was given to Queenslander William Feeney. The sole director of a labour hire company was found guilty of failing to report and remit PAYG.
Queensland man Phillip Leach as handed a three-year jail term with no parole after being found guilty of 12 charges, for claiming GST credits across three businesses that proved to be false. As well as his stint behind bars, Mr Leach faces a reparation order to the tune of $134,011.99.
The same offense also saw Victorian man Jose Lopez given four years behind bars.
It wasn’t just business owners found to have done wrong, but at least one tax agent was also imprisoned for aggravating the tax man.
Melbourne man Nayanaka Samarakoon received 29 months’ jail for claiming government grants his company was not entitled to.
The biggest penalty of all was given to WA man Peter Stamatopoulos. As reported in mid-2017, the former partner of an accounting firm was found to have used client and family identities to obtain fraudulent tax refunds worth more than $2 million. He was sentenced to eight years’ jail.
“There are people who are calculated in their attempts to deliberately commit fraud and evade their tax obligations, ultimately stealing from the Australian community and placing an unfair burden on others who are doing the right thing,” the ATO said in a statement.
“These [convictions] are the result of the combined efforts by the ATO and our partner agencies who, with community support, keep our tax and superannuation systems fair.
Adam Zuchetti is the editor of My Business, and has steered the publication’s editorial direction since early 2016.