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Yachts, cars, horses: ATO’s fresh warning to 300,000 rich Aussies

·3-min read
The ATO has its eyes on wealthy individuals, too. (Source: Getty)
The ATO has its eyes on wealthy individuals, too. (Source: Getty)

Bought expensive art, luxury car, horse or private boat recently?

Watch out: the taxman has its eyes on you.

Australian Taxation Officer assistant commissioner Tim Loh warned roughly 300,000 Australians who have made any of these pricey purchases to declare all their income at tax time, or face an audit.

“This isn't a game of Monopoly where you can roll the dice and avoid the income tax box,” Loh told ABC News.

“We're getting data from various sources, and we're using data and analytics to run eyes over the data to see if we can find information where people aren't declaring their income or overstating their deductions.”

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The ATO is able to cross-reference people’s income because they also gather data from shared platforms such as Airbnb, Airtasker, rideshares like Uber, and more.

In June, CPA Australia senior manager of tax policy Elinor Kasapidis issued a warning about this for people who earn cash in hand, like gig economy workers.

“It’s legal to receive payments in cash rather than electronically but you must report these amounts in your tax return,” she said.

“If you drive people around, do odd jobs or freelance work, rent out your car or storage space, run social media accounts or sell products, you need to declare this income in your tax return.”

But Australia’s wealthier individuals have now been put on notice as the ATO is able to obtain insurance policy information on assets like vehicles that cost upwards of $65,000.

The taxman can also access records of thoroughbred horses, marine vessels, fine art and aircraft to the value of $65,000, $100,000, $100,000 and $150,000 or upwards respectively.

Not only that, but the ATO will have that data for five years, allowing them to retrospectively cross-reference, ABC News reported.

The cost of items are then matched with the income the individual is receiving. And if it doesn’t check out, it’s a red flag – and the ATO investigates further.

“We're going to be asking questions pretty quickly [if] someone isn't declaring all their income in their tax return,” Loh said.

WATCH BELOW: Working From Home Costs You Didn't Know You Could Claim

This year, the ATO will be examining gig economy workers and cryptocurrency enthusiasts, as well as people who claim way too much in deductions.

Those over-claiming home office expenses will also be examined closely, as will rental property owners.

And it’s not just individuals who will be examined: earlier this year, the ATO said that 60,000 Australian businesses that weren’t lodging tax returns were costing the economy $50 billion.

And a report on debts owed to the ATO found a handful of small- and medium-sized Aussie business owners need to pay the taxman $21 billion.

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