SMEs have reacted angrily to a petition by a large accounting firm that the ATO should crack down on expenses claimed in tax deductions.
KPMG’s tax director Andy Hutt said the ATO should focus its efforts more heavily on ensuring compliance with expenses thresholds, suggesting the government is losing up to $10 billion in revenue from over-zealous expense claims.
“A recent parliamentary inquiry into work-related deductions did not recommend any specific changes to the law. However, it would be a surprise if the government did not take further action to mitigate this tax leakage in future,” he said.
However some business owners and accountants suggested the large accounting firm was out-of-touch with the needs and pressures facing SMEs and individual taxpayers.
“It is easy to throw stones from up in your ivory tower KPMG. The answer to the tax issues in this country is more about corporates using aggressive tax strategies to minimise tax not the average punter claiming a little extra,” said one My Business reader.
“And as an ‘accountant’, I find it extremely offensive that your company seems to think we are all ignorant and simply allowing incorrect claims and aiding and abetting all of these alleged errors willingly. Look in your own backyard first maybe.”
Others suggested a witch-hunt of smaller businesses would be much less fruitful than increased scrutiny of the large companies which KPMG serves.
“Mr Hutt's comments may be, accurate but I wonder how many tax dollars Australia has missed out on from his clients in corporate Australia due to the implementation of his ‘tax minimisation strategies’ including the shifting of Australian profits offshore,” said another reader.
“It's convenient to single out individual taxpayers, but I suspect Australia would get a much better return by spending money on investigating the tax strategies of big business than they would out of penny pinching from individuals.”
It comes after the ATO announced plans to closely scrutinise one of the most popular tax deductions following a ballooning in the number of taxpayers claiming up to the receipt-free threshold.
Adam Zuchetti is the editor of My Business, and has steered the publication’s editorial direction since early 2016.