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ATO ‘conducting checks’ on dodgy JobKeeper claims

The ATO is targeting dodgy businesses. Image: Getty

Australian businesses that cooked the books to qualify for JobKeeper have officially been put on notice by the Australian Tax Office (ATO). 

Schemes designed to boost cash flow and receive JobKeeper are among the ATO’s 2020 tax time hit-list, it confirmed this week. 

“Our tax system works on a self-assessment model. We will generally operate on the basis Australians are honest, meaning we will accept the information we are provided with as true and correct and make payments,” ATO deputy commissioner Will Day said. 

“However, we will be conducting checks later, so if you've received a benefit as part of the Covid-19 stimulus measures and we discover you are ineligible, you can expect to hear from us. If you think this may apply to you, you should contact us or speak to your tax professional.”

He said the ATO will use Single Touch Payroll, income tax returns and super fund data to zero in on non-compliant businesses. 

The ATO said it has already received examples of fraudulent attempts to access the scheme and “steal money from the community”. 

“It’s important to carefully check eligibility requirements before applying for any of the measures. Eligibility requirements for each of the measures are outlined on the ATO’s website. If you’re not sure, the best thing to do is check with the ATO or your tax professional,” Day said. 

The ATO said it will be seeking to make sure businesses meet the income requirements. Entities were required to prove that they had suffered a loss of at least 30 per cent in revenue or turnover. 

Additionally, the ATO will be checking entities are claiming for eligible employees, making the correct claims and not manipulating their turnover to appear to be eligible. 

It will also be on the lookout for employers who have artificially restructured their business to boost cash flow, inflated reported withholding amounts, resurrected dormant entities or artificially changed the character of payments. 

The ATO recently warned it is also closely examining the financial details of the 2 million Australians who accessed their super early, warning that deliberately misleading claims can attract penalties of up to $12,600.

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