There are now massive fines for businesses that possess or use electronic sales suppression tools that manipulate data, and the ATO suspects some businesses may have inadvertently purchased dodgy software.
Taxpayers can cop a $1 million fine, which is about 5,000 penalty units, if they’re found to be using these illegal services to intentionally falsify sales figures.
“These tools serve no purpose other than intentional tax evasion. They can be used to delete, change or falsify electronic point of sales (POS) records and are often referred to as phantomware or zappers,” said ATO commissioner Matthew Bambrick.
“We know these tools are being used by dodgy businesses, and now that we have legislation passed that specifically sets out sanctions, we can also go after the manufacturers and suppliers,” he said.
“Businesses using legitimate POS software shouldn’t be concerned – we can tell the difference between a salesperson correcting an error when ringing up a sale and the deliberate manipulation of sales data,” he said.
The ATO acknowledged some businesses may have accidentally purchased dodgy software with an ESST function, and has encouraged them to come forward.
“Businesses that have acquired an ESST on their software before the legislation was first announced on 9 May 2017 have a six-month transitional period until 3 April 2019 to let us know about it without any penalty being applied,” Mr Bambrick said.
“We will be sending letters to businesses that we believe may have an ESST in their POS system to inform them to take action,” he said.
“I urge all businesses to keep detailed records of every transaction so you can explain any adjustments or calculations for tax purposes,” he said.