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Is the ATO secretly taking money out of accounts?

(Image: Getty)

The Australian Taxation Office has denied it takes money out of taxpayers' bank accounts without their knowledge.

The allegation has been made in the Your Right To Know campaign, which a range of media companies are running to protect journalists and whistleblowers.

Some advertisements and articles have described the example of whistleblower Richard Boyle, who has been threatened with a life term in prison.

"At every turn Tax Office superiors thwarted Boyle over what he saw as the ATO’s heavy-handed debt collection tactics on ordinary Australians and small business, including seizing money from bank accounts sometimes without their knowledge," stated one News Corp article.

ATO commissioner Chris Jordan, did not address Boyle's predicament but denied the accusation.

"This statement is categorically incorrect and we strongly refute and object to it. We do not take money from people’s bank accounts without extensively attempting to inform them first,” he said.

"This misleading statement would have you believe that we go about helping ourselves to large sums of money from people’s accounts at a whim without them knowing. This is ridiculously incorrect."

The tax office stated it had a legal responsibility to collect tax debts, and garnishee powers – which take out a portion of a person's pay – was a last resort.

"On average, we interact or attempt to contact a taxpayer 19 times before exercising garnishee powers."

The "fictitious example" is "alarmist and misleading", stated the ATO.

"We are concerned this coverage serves only to create tension and worry for taxpayers where it did not previously exist, and perhaps even stop people from coming to us to get their tax affairs back on track."

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