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ATO sting: 5 years’ jail for man who lodged fake tax returns

·2-min read
Pedestrians in Adelaide, close image of calculator, receipt and Australian currency.
The South Australian man has been sentenced to 5 years' jail. (Sources: Getty)

A South Australian man has been sentenced to five years in jail after he was found guilty of lodging false income tax returns worth nearly $500,000 in fraudulent refunds.

Joshua Matheson had included false income - purportedly earned through working at a butcher shop and his own Matho’s PCs business.

He also claimed work-related expenses, resulting in a $29,451 refund for the 2014 financial year and a $466,328 refund for the 2015 financial year.

However, the Australian Tax Office (ATO) prevented the 2015 refund from being delivered while it investigated Matheson’s claims.

It found that despite attempting to claim for the 2014 and 2015 financial years, Matheson had not worked at the butcher shop since 2012.

Additionally, while Matheson reported income of $689,000 and tax withheld of $337,033 in the 2015 year, Matho’s PCs had not registered for PAYG withholding, or reported wages to the ATO.

“This outcome highlights that people who try to cheat the tax and super systems will get caught and we will take firm action,” acting assistant commissioner Megan Croaker said.

She added that those attempting to falsely obtain a refund could risk a criminal record and jail.

Noting that Matheson reported income he had never earnt, expenses that hadn’t been incurred and PAYG withholding that hadn’t been paid, Croaker said it was not a “careless or accidental mistake”.

“This was a deliberate attempt to obtain money he was not entitled to,” Croaker said.

“Mr Matheson’s claims drastically grew in size over the two-year period, further demonstrating the brazen nature of this crime.

“Our systems quickly identified red flags to be followed up by our specialist officers. By spotting these red flags and looking closer, we were able to stop the attempted refund fraud of almost $500,000.”

It comes after a Gold Coast property developer was sentenced to three years’ jail after attempting to claim $147,763 from the ATO.

However, the developer won’t spend any time behind bars because he will be released on a recognisance release order.

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