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ATO's urgent warning to these 50,000 Aussies

The ATO is urging Aussie businesses to “do the right thing”.

ATO and money
The ATO is warning businesses to pay up before they are named and shamed. (Source: AAP/Getty)

Thousands of businesses are being warned to pay their debts before they are named and shamed by the Australian Taxation Office (ATO).

The ATO is shifting back to its “business-as-usual” debt-collection process following its more relaxed approach during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The tax office said it had now issued more than 22,000 businesses with notices that they would have their debts disclosed to credit-reporting agencies, as of July 2023. More than 9,000 businesses are expected to have their debts disclosed this month.

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This applies to businesses with tax debts of at least $100,000 that are overdue by more than 90 days.

ATO assistant commissioner Jillian Kitto said if businesses wanted to stop their tax debts becoming visible on credit-rating checks, they would have to pay or engage with the ATO.

“We give businesses ample opportunity to re-engage with us. However, those who show continued and ongoing disregard for their tax and super obligations will have their debts disclosed,” Kitto said.

“While we do not take disclosures lightly, consequences will apply to businesses who refuse to pay or engage with us.”

A disclosed debt could impact a business’s ability to receive finance and they may lose suppliers, the ATO said.

To prevent disclosure, businesses need to pay their debt or enter into a payment arrangement within 28 days of receiving the ATO’s notice.

‘Do the right thing’

The ATO said it expected more than 50,000 notices of intent would be sent to businesses in the current 2023-24 financial year.

Kitto said the ATO had shifted its focus during the pandemic from debt collection to stimulus payment and assistance with tax, but it was now re-establishing “the culture of paying tax on time”.

“There is over $5 billion owed by businesses who currently meet the criteria for disclosure,” Kitto said.

“We must draw a line in the sand to protect the Australian community and other creditors, and to ensure a level playing field for businesses who do the right thing.”

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