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ATO’s next round of business visits targets top end

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ATO’s next round of business visits targets top end

Darwin

Almost 800 more SMEs in Queensland and the Northern Territory can expect a visit from ATO officials in the coming weeks, as the Tax Office looks to continue its program of business visits to check for undeclared income.

Darwin businesses targeted for inspection

The ATO has revealed that over the remaining weeks of August, inspectors plan to visit around 350 businesses in Darwin.

“We’re concerned about some businesses in Darwin getting an unfair advantage over their honest competitors,” said assistant commissioner Peter Holt.

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“Our intelligence suggests that some businesses are not declaring all of their income to the ATO and avoiding their obligations by not paying their entitlements like super and tax contributions. We have also received reports of some businesses operating without proper GST, PAYG withholding or ABN registrations.”

Mr Holt said that businesses deliberately avoiding their tax obligations “make it harder for other 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 in the top end,” he said.

Darwin industries being targeted as part of the visits include:

  • Building cleaning, pest control and gardening services
  • Automotive repair and maintenance
  • Building installation/completion services
  • Cafes, restaurants and takeaway food services
  • Residential building construction

The ATO will also be holding information sessions with small businesses to coincide with the visits on Monday, 26 August at Group Training Northern Territory. A special session will also be held on the introduction of Single Touch Payroll (STP) reporting.

Tip-offs lead to north Queensland visits

During August and September, the ATO has also said its investigators will visit the far north Queensland towns of Port Douglas and Cooktown, with plans to drop in on a further 400 businesses.

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It comes on the back of “numerous” public tip-offs, said Mr Holt.

“We’ve received numerous community referrals from people in Cooktown and Port Douglas about some businesses getting an unfair advantage over their honest competitors,” he said.

“Our intelligence suggests that some businesses are not declaring all of their income to the ATO, or paying staff in cash, which means employees may be missing out on their entitlements like super.

“We understand that some businesses may be operating in cash and 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 in FNQ [far north Queensland].”

ATO inspectors will target a broader range of industries in the two towns than they will in Darwin, with businesses operating in the following sectors more likely to receive visitors from the Tax Office:

  • Cafes, restaurants and takeaway food services
  • Pharmaceutical and other store-based retailing
  • Personal care services
  • Accommodation
  • Building cleaning, pest control and gardening services
  • Building completion services
  • Building installation services
  • Other construction services

Information sessions will be held in both towns on the following dates:

Cooktown:

  • Monday, 26 August – general information
  • Wednesday, 4 September – introduction to business records and STP introduction

All sessions will be held at Cooktown PCYC.

Port Douglas:

  • Tuesday, 27 August – general information
  • Thursday, 5 September – introduction to business records and STP introduction

All sessions will be held at Oaks Resort Port Douglas.

Ongoing ATO business visits

The ATO has committed to visiting up to 10,000 businesses right across Australia this financial year, following just under 9,000 visits paid to Australian SMEs last year.

Their aim is to ensure compliance, answer questions from employers and also to investigate external tip-offs and internal red flags about tax-related matters.

So far in FY2019-20, visits have already been conducted in:

And in May, inspectors from the ATO visited as many as 1,800 businesses – as well as their accountants – in co-ordinated action across multiple areas in Victoria, Queensland and the Northern Territory.

Mr Holt said the proactive visits to businesses are as much about education as compliance.

“Local visits provide us with the opportunity to talk to business owners and help them get things right,” he said.

“During the visits, we may discuss record-keeping and payment facilities, outstanding lodgments, tax debts and managing employee entitlements such as superannuation.”

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Adam Zuchetti

Adam Zuchetti

Adam Zuchetti is the editor of My Business, and has steered the publication’s editorial direction since early 2016. 

The two-time Publish Awards finalist has an extensive journalistic career across business, property and finance, including a four-year stint in the UK. Email Adam at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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