ATO’s administration of JobKeeper to undergo Auditor-General review
The Auditor-General has established a new review into the Tax Office’s administration of the JobKeeper scheme following recent reports regarding whether illegitimate payments have been made under the scheme.
In particular, the Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) said it will examine whether the ATO:
- effectively administered the rules for the JobKeeper scheme;
- implemented effective measures to protect the integrity of JobKeeper payments; and
- effectively monitored and reported on the operational performance of the scheme.
The ANAO is expected to table the report in October this year.
The audit comes after shadow assistant treasurer Dr Andrew Leigh called for the audit in December 2020 when he noted the lack of proper scrutiny of the JobKeeper scheme.
Speaking on AM radio on 3 February, Dr Leigh said that while the scheme has been effective and saved around 700,000 jobs, he added that it doesn’t mean every dollar has been well spent.
“We do need appropriate scrutiny around JobKeeper, because … there are sectors of the economy that need JobKeeper to continue past the end of next month,” he said.
“The government’s cutting off JobKeeper from people who need it while allowing JobKeeper to go to people that don’t need it.”
However, he also criticised firms like Solomon Lew’s Premier Investments and Gerry Harvey’s Harvey Norman for choosing to hang on to JobKeeper stimulus.
“They’ve forgotten the basic fact that firms aren’t just there for their shareholders. They’re also there for their customers, for their workers and for the broader community,” Dr Leigh said.
The ATO has also recently been under fire after it rejected claims that JobKeeper payments have been made to fictitious employees, dead people and prisoners.
It responded by citing review findings from the ANAO that it had been effective in managing risks related to the rapid implementation of COVID-19 economic response measures.
“The effectiveness of the ATO’s approach to implementing JobKeeper and managing fraud was recently confirmed by the Australian National Audit Office,” the ATO said.
“These findings reflect the dedication of the thousands of employees across the ATO involved in delivering the government’s stimulus package.”