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ATO set to visit 500 businesses in cash crackdown

Miranda Brownlee
Miranda Brownlee
24 July 2019 1 minute readShare

The ATO is set to visit almost 500 businesses as part of its ongoing crackdown on the black economy, with a number of businesses in the targeted region falling behind with income tax returns.

In a public update, the ATO said it is planning to visit close to 500 businesses in or around Port Macquarie and Wauchope on the NSW mid-north coast in late July and early August, as part of ongoing efforts to combat the black economy.

ATO assistant commissioner Peter Holt said there are a number of businesses in this region who are not registered for GST or pay as you go withholding which can be a sign of the black economy.

“Another reason we’re planning the visits is because there are a number of businesses in this region with overdue income tax returns,” Mr Holt said.

Mr Holt said the ATO will be talking to business owners to help them get things right where they need a helping hand.

“We may discuss record keeping and payment facilities, outstanding lodgements, tax debts, and managing employee entitlements such as superannuation,” he said.

As part of the visits, ATO officers will be providing information about recent changes, such as Single Touch Payroll and the extension of the taxable payments reporting system to certain industries.

Prior to the visits, local businesses and tax professionals have been invited to attend a one-hour information session at Rydges Port Macquarie on Monday, 29 July, that will explain the purpose of the visits, what to expect if visited and how to avoid common mistakes.

The ATO said the visits are part of its overall strategy for dealing with the black economy. In the 2018–19 financial year, the Tax Office visited nearly 9,000 businesses in all states and territories across a variety of industries.

“The Black Economy Taskforce estimates that the black economy is costing the community as much as $50 billion, which is approximately 3 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP). This is money that the community is missing out on for vital public services like schools, welfare, roads, healthcare and infrastructure,” Mr Holt said.

“Most businesses do the right thing. However, businesses who deliberately do the wrong thing — for example, pay cash in hand, or fail to lodge income tax returns or business activity statements — get an unfair advantage and make it harder for businesses who are doing the right thing. By detecting and addressing this behaviour, we’re helping to ensure a level playing field for honest small businesses.”

The Tax Office has previously said it plans to visit as many as 10,000 businesses across the country each year.

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ATO set to visit 500 businesses in cash crackdown
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Miranda Brownlee
Miranda Brownlee

Adam Zuchetti is the former editor of MyBusiness and a senior freelance media professional, specialising in the fields of business, personal finance and property. In 2020, he also embarked on his own business journey – inspired in part by the entrepreneurs and founders he had met through his journalistic work – with the launch of customised pet gifting and subscription service Paws N’ All.

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