The ATO has announced another tranche of business visits by its inspectors, and revealed that almost 9,000 businesses were visited by inspectors last financial year.
The latest visits are set to take place throughout August at the other side of the country, with the ATO announcing that it will target around 700 SMEs in WA’s north, around Broome, Cable Beach, Derby and Kununurra.
“We’re particularly concerned about businesses in certain industries gaining an unfair edge over their honest competitors, so some industries are more likely than others to get a visit from us,” ATO assistant commissioner Peter Holt said.
Industries of particular interest to the ATO are:
- Residential building construction
- Building completion and installation services
- Other construction services
- Building cleaning, pest control and gardening services
- Accommodation providers
- Automotive repair and maintenance
- Cafes, restaurants and takeaway food services
- Personal care services
Mr Holt said that these towns have been identified for additional scrutiny after displaying signs commonly associated with “black economy behaviour”.
“Black economy signs that we look out for are things like not being registered for GST or pay as you go withholding, lifestyle and assets far exceeding reported business income, or a lack of merchant payment facilities like EFTPOS,” he said.
“We understand that some businesses may not have merchant payment facilities due to individual circumstances. The issue is when businesses are deliberately ‘cash only’ to avoid reporting all their income.
“By detecting and addressing this behaviour, we’re helping to keep things fair for honest small businesses.”
However, Mr Holt said the ATO has also received more concrete “intelligence” to support its initial suspicions.
“Another reason we’re heading to Broome, Cable Beach, Derby and Kununurra is because we’ve received intelligence from the community that some businesses aren’t playing by the rules, such as paying their workers cash in hand and keeping them off the books,” he said.
Alongside the business visits, the ATO will also be holding two tax information sessions for businesses: one on Monday, 5 August, in Broome; another in Kununurra on Tuesday, 20 August.
The visits are part of a proactive strategy by the Tax Office to increase its visibility among the Australian business, both to engage with businesses about common tax uncertainties and errors as well as to enforce compliance.
The ATO has said that it plans to visit around 10,000 businesses across the country each year. It said that last financial year (2018–19), close to 9,000 businesses were visited by its inspectors, with locations targeted in all states and territories.
“Local visits provide us with an opportunity to talk to business owners and help them get things right. During the visits, we may discuss record keeping and payment facilities, outstanding lodgements, tax debts, and managing employee entitlements such as superannuation,” Mr Holt said.
The revelation of the WA visits come just a week after a similar announcement that visits would target businesses in and around the Port Macquarie and Wauchope area of the state’s mid-north coast.
Adam Zuchetti is the editor of My Business, and has steered the publication’s editorial direction since early 2016.