ATO heading to Port Macquarie region to help protect honest businesses from black economy

The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) is planning to visit close to 500 businesses in and around Port Macquarie and Wauchope in late July and early August to help protect honest businesses from people doing the wrong thing by operating in the black economy.

“The Black Economy Taskforce estimates that the black economy is costing the community as much as $50 billion, which is approximately three percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP). This is money that the community is missing out on for vital public services like schools, welfare, roads, healthcare, and infrastructure,” Assistant Commissioner Peter Holt said.

“Most businesses do the right thing. However, businesses who deliberately do the wrong thing – for example, pay cash in hand, or fail to lodge income tax returns or business activity statements – get an unfair advantage and make it harder for businesses who are doing the right thing. By detecting and addressing this behaviour, we’re helping to ensure a level playing field for honest small businesses,” Mr Holt said.

Businesses in the building and construction industry, as well as cafes, restaurants, and personal care businesses like hairdressers are more likely than others to get a visit from the ATO.

“There are a number of businesses in this region who are not registered for GST or pay as you go withholding, which can be a sign of the black economy,” Mr Holt said.

“Another reason we’re planning the visits is because there are a number of businesses in this region with overdue income tax returns. The visits also give us an opportunity to talk to business owners and help them get things right if they need a helping hand. We may discuss record keeping and payment facilities, outstanding lodgments, tax debts, and managing employee entitlements, such as superannuation,” Mr Holt said.

The visits are part of the ATO’s strategy to deal with the black economy. Nearly 9,000 businesses were visited in 2018-19 financial year in all states and territories, across a variety of industries.

As part of the visits, ATO officers will be providing information about recent changes, such as Single Touch Payroll and the extension of the Taxable Payments Reporting System to certain industries.

Prior to the visits, local businesses and tax professionals are invited to attend a one-hour information session at Rydges Port Macquarie (1 Hay Street) on Monday 29 July from 5.00pm-6.00pm that will explain the purpose of the visits, what to expect if visited, and how to avoid common mistakes.

To help businesses with Single Touch Payroll, an introductory Single Touch Payroll session will also be held on the same night from 6.15pm-7.45pm.

To find out more or to register for an information session, visit ato.gov.au/protectinghonestbusiness  

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