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ATO ‘tip-off’ line runs hot as number of referrals peaks

The ATO received nearly 60,000 tip-offs from the community about tax evasion from 1 July 2018 to 31 May 2019, nearly double the amount seen in the same period last financial year.

ATO ‘tip-off’ line runs hot as number of referrals peaks
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  • Maja Garaca Djurdjevic
  • June 21, 2019
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The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) has announced that it has received nearly double the number of referrals from the community about tax evasion compared to the same time last financial year.

Referrals numbered nearly 60,000, up 42 per cent on the volume received in the same time last financial year.

The ATO revealed that more than half of the referrals were for suspected under reporting of income or about the cash economy, for example businesses demanding cash from customers or paying their workers cash in hand.

“We’re seeing an upwards trend in the volume of referrals about people suspected of participating in the black economy, which suggests that honest businesses have had enough of competitors cheating the system and getting an unfair advantage,” said assistant commissioner Peter Holt.

Mr Holt revealed that the forecast total of community referrals for the 2018/2019 financial year is 70,000.

“By way of comparison, we received over 51,000 referrals in 2017–18 and that was the highest ever number of referrals received,” Mr Holt said.

The record number of referrals coincides with improvements to the reporting process for letting the ATO know about suspected tax evasion.

The Tax Office is also due to launch its Tax Integrity Centre on 1 July, which will provide a single point of contact for reporting suspected or known illegal phoenix, tax evasion, and black economy activity.

“Our tip-off line is the taxation equivalent of Crime Stoppers for tax. Members of the community will be able to tip the ATO off online or by calling our hotline on 1800 060 062,” Mr Holt said.

Once received the tip-offs are assessed and referred to ATO staff for review to determine if action is required.

“A community tip-off may be the missing piece of the puzzle that we need to finalise an investigation and seek prosecution action to help protect honest taxpayers,” Mr Holt explained.

While the tip-offs are private and can be anonymous, the ATO may seek contact details in case information provided needs further clarification.

“Improvements to evasion reporting and analysis of intelligence received are just two of the many ways we’re tackling the black economy,” Mr Holt said.

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