The ATO is warning taxpayers who have an outstanding tax bill to be wary of scammers seeking to intercept these funds ahead of the payment deadline.
According to the Tax Office, around 1 million Australians owe money as part of their tax return this year, with payments due by 21 November.
Assistant commissioner Kath Anderson warned that this has spurred increasing activity from scammers seeking access to both money and personal information.
“November is a prime time for scammers as they know lots of people have tax bills to pay. Be wary if someone contacts you demanding payment of a tax debt you didn’t know you owed,” she said in a statement.
Of particular concern is the close to $1 million that has been paid to scammers since 1 July 2018, with 28,000 scam attempts already reported to the ATO.
Ms Anderson said that close to 6,000 taxpayers have inadvertently given personal or financial information to scammers since 1 July – and those are just the ones of which it has been directly informed.
This has increasingly involved demands for payment through Bitcoin ATMs, which the Tax Office said has now overtaken iTunes vouchers as the most common method of scam payment reports it has received.
“Our advice is simple – the ATO will never ask you to make a payment into an ATM or via gift or prepaid cards such as iTunes and Visa cards, or direct credit to be paid to a personal bank account,” said Ms Anderson.
“If you have any doubts about the legitimacy of a call, hang up and call us on 1800 008 540.”
Ms Anderson also said that officials of the ATO would never demand immediate payment of a debt or make threats to arrest someone.
“That’s just not how we do business. We understand that it can sometimes be difficult to pay tax bills on time, so we urge anyone who is worried about paying to contact us as soon as possible as there are a range of ways we can help,” she said.
“Payment plans can offer reassurance, and generally, if you have a tax bill of less than $100,000, you can set up a payment plan through your myGov account. We also have an online payment estimator that will help you work out regular payment amounts and how much interest you could be charged.”
In July, a separate scam alert was issued over a fake myGov form that purported to have “important information regarding your account” that asked for personal and login details as well as credit card numbers before linking to the legitimate myGov site.
Adam Zuchetti is the editor of My Business, and has steered the publication’s editorial direction since early 2016.