TV presenter jailed for GST fraud of $1.7m
A Victorian woman has been sentenced to two years and 10 months jail for goods and services tax (GST) fraud of $1.7 million.
A former TV presenter and beauty queen, Simone Semmens, has been accused of failing to register for GST and lodge BAS despite flipping properties for profit.
According to the ATO, Semmens was knowingly carrying on an enterprise, Semco Developments Pty Ltd, as a property development company to purchase, renovate and sell houses, and has dishonestly evaded paying over $1.7 million in GST.
“This wasn’t a one-off property sale; this is a case of someone deliberately carrying on an enterprise without meeting their tax obligations,” assistant commissioner Ian Read said.
“People like this are obtaining an unfair advantage over Australians who are doing the right thing and robbing the Australian economy of revenue that could have been spent on essential services. Tax crime is not victimless and we will not tolerate when people try to cheat the tax system.”
The Tax Authority reported that between 2005 and 2011, Semmens purchased, developed and sold 10 luxury properties in Toorak, Portsea and Caulfield North for profit. She sold these properties for more than $20 million and made a total profit of more than $4.4 million.
She claimed the properties were for personal use, but according to the ATO she should have been registered for GST, lodging business activity statements (BAS) and reporting the property sales.
“If you are buying, selling or developing a property that isn’t your primary residence, you have tax obligations,” Mr Read said.
“There are many TV shows that make flipping properties look like a fun and lucrative thing to do. People also need to be aware of their tax obligations.”
The ATO reminded that you are required to register for GST if the turnover from your property transactions is more than the GST registration threshold of $75,000 and if you buy land or property with the intention of developing it for resale at a profit.
“We know most people try to do the right thing, and we will support people who do. But to ensure the community doesn’t miss out on essential funding and to protect the integrity of the system, we have to crack down on those who deliberately do the wrong thing,” Mr Read said.
Semmens was convicted of 10 offences of dishonestly causing a loss to the Commonwealth contrary to section 135.1 (5) of the Criminal Code (Commonwealth).