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  • Executive summary

    The GST system continues to perform well and we are meeting our performance standards across a number of measures.

    GST revenue continues to grow and is up 5.5% on last year to $63.1 billion. This was driven by growth in household consumption and the continued growth in new dwelling investment.

    In 2017–18, the number of active GST registrants increased by over 3% to around 2.75 million. Most registrants are in the small business market, which has increased significantly due to growth in the sharing economy, as well as a number of new policy measures that have brought more taxpayers into the GST system.

    Over the last few years our lodgment performance has been declining due to a number of factors. In 2017–18, this trend was arrested as a result of our early intervention strategies. Electronic BAS lodgment rose to 81%, an improvement of 3.5% on last year.

    Our compliance activities to ensure correct reporting in 2017–18 raised over $3 billion in adjustments, a 5.6% increase on last year. We have implemented several initiatives designed to make it easier for clients to voluntarily comply. Simpler BAS reporting is now the default GST reporting method for 2.7 million small businesses with a GST turnover of less than $10 million. We have also expanded education and support programs for new and existing small businesses. For larger businesses we have continued the justified trust program to provide greater certainty and reduce compliance costs.

    The net GST tax gap estimate for 2017–18 is $5.3 billion (or 7.9%), down from $5.5 billion (or 8.7%) in the previous year. Our efforts to minimise the tax gap and maximise voluntary compliance through the delivery of a balanced and targeted compliance program focused on preventative early engagement and assurance activities.

    Through early intervention and alternative dispute resolution, the number of objections received in 2017–18 declined by 2%. However, the complexity of objections received has increased. We are also receiving fewer litigation cases – the number of cases received this year was around half of that received in 2014–15.

    Total GST debt in 2017–18 was $5.5 billion, down by 0.8% on last year. While the value of collectable debt continues to grow, it has not grown at the same rate as revenue, indicating that our strategies are proving effective. One example is our payment thinking initiative, to help make payment an easy and natural part of tax activities.

    In summary, during the 2017–18 year the ATO:

    • processed around 369,400 new GST registrations
    • paid $51.7 billion in GST refunds
    • processed more than 10.3 million activity statements
    • collected more than $113.9 billion in GST payable and $56.3 billion in net GST.
      Last modified: 18 Mar 2019QC 58283