You could be jailed for dodgy tax returns

A woman looking stressed while using a laptop at home.
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Ahead of the start of tax return season on Sunday, Australians have been reminded we could pay dearly if we try to cheat.

The Australian Taxation Office has presented four cases of people being convicted for tax crimes, as a warning against deliberately trying to cheat the system.

"From failing to lodge income tax returns to submitting dodgy work related expenses, we will not tolerate any form of tax crime," stated the government agency.

In one case, five employees at the same Queensland engineering firm all had convictions recorded. They had claimed work-related expense deductions on their tax returns, even though the costs had already been reimbursed by the company.

The five staff members were also ordered to pay more than $54,000 in penalties.

In another case, NSW man Peter Garven was sentenced to 3 years and 3 months imprisonment for harvesting $102,504 in tax refunds using false papers.

During an ATO audit, Garven was given an opportunity to correct his returns but failed to do so. When he also failed to appear at a court hearing, a warrant for his arrest was issued.

"While we are here to support you, we take firm action against those who deliberately do the wrong thing," the ATO stated.

The third example saw Indian citizen Tharun Likki jailed for 2 years and 3 months for fraudulently claiming $117,000 in tax refunds and trying to grab another $22,180.

Likki worked with others to steal the identities of Indian nationals living in Australia to create tax file numbers and lodge tax returns on their behalf. Handwriting analysis showed Likki had filled in the tax return forms himself.

In a business tax case, a Perth court found Michael George Fotios guilty of not lodging five activity statements with the tax office and ignoring requests for information from police.

The director of mining firm Delta Resource Management Pty Ltd was penalised a total of $51,500 for the seven convictions.

"The magistrate said due to the history of non-compliance and the seriousness of the offences, imprisonment was seriously considered as a sentencing option," stated the tax office.

"He described Mr Fotios’ non-lodgment and non-compliance as contemptuous."

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