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ATO black economy hotline receives 15,000 tip-offs

Since launching its tax integrity centre in July, the ATO has received record tip-offs with cash payments and income declaration the main issues uncovered.

Keen to provide a single point of contact for reporting suspected or known black market or tax evasion activity, the ATO launched its new tax integrity centre on the 1st July and has received on average 230 calls a day.

Reasons for calling include not declaring income, cash in hand, lifestyles which create suspicion as they don’t tally with income levels and not reporting sales. Cafes and restaurants were the biggest culprits, with hairdressing, beauty, building and construction and cleaning industries not far behind.

“We’re hearing loud and clear that people are sick and tired of this kind of dodgy behaviour. Running a small business can be a really tough gig, and when dishonest competitors are cheating the tax system by operating off the books, it’s really unfair and makes it even harder to succeed. It’s also effectively stealing from the community,” said ATO assistant commissioner Peter Holt.

“Trading in cash and paying your workers in cash is perfectly legal but failing to report the income to the ATO and not paying your workers their entitlements like superannuation is not only illegal but also incredibly unfair,” he added.

“Regardless of what industry you’re in, if you’re cooking the books, your competitors and workers are probably aware of it. And they’re not hesitating to let us know about it.”

Tip-offs from New South Wales topped the ATO’s list, closely followed by Victoria and Queensland.

“A tip-off from the community could be the missing piece of the puzzle we need to successfully audit or prosecute someone who is illegally operating in the black economy, so we really value and rely on the community letting us know when something doesn’t add up.”

The ATO has announced that it plans to visit 10,000 businesses this year as a result of the calls, starting with 400 in Bankstown next month.

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