• 2014-15 results

    We report our results every year to Parliament in our comprehensive Annual ReportExternal Link. Below is a summary of some of our results for 2014-15.

    Some of our significant achievements from the last financial year were:

    • Introduction of the streamlined myTax return for individuals with simple income tax affairs
    • Becoming part of the myGov initiative to allow people to access our online services, along with those of other government agencies from a single portal – with more than 3.4 million people linking their myGov account to the ATO’s online services so far
    • Taking a leading role in the international efforts to address challenges to global revenue systems occurring through Base Erosion Profit Shifting (BEPS)
    • Continuing to develop online channels for small business, with our interactive Small Business Assist tool, Small Business Newsroom, web chat facility and an after‑hours call‑back service
    • Continuing a productive and open relationship with key tax professional associations, and increased our collaboration with software developers to ensure tax professionals and businesses are supported by appropriate tools
    • Improvements to our dispute resolution by engaging earlier and more often, working with clients to resolve issues before they get to court, while balancing the need for everyone to pay their fair share against settling at all costs
    • Making it easier for superannuation funds and employers to manage superannuation by streamlining contribution payments and reporting
    • Reported net savings of more than $300 million in the cost of compliance for individuals, businesses and community organisations
    • Working collaboratively with people seeking to do the right thing, including through our Project DO IT (Disclose Offshore Income Today) initiative and by increasing transparency in the large business sector
    • Demonstrated that we take appropriate action with those who do not do the right thing or deliberately avoid paying the right amount of tax, through our ongoing focus on criminal evasion and tax crime, including through multi‑agency initiatives such as the Phoenix Taskforce.

    Lodging and paying

    We received 17.8 million tax return lodgments in 2014–15, consisting of 17.7 million income tax returns and 80,500 fringe benefits tax (FBT) returns. On‑time lodgment of tax returns has improved by 3.5 percentage points over the past four years, from 78.7% for 2010–11 to 82.2% for 2013–14 returns.

    In 2014–15:

    • we contacted 2.9 million people where we identified they had fallen behind with their lodgments or were likely to. Around 813,000 income tax returns and 964,000 activity statements were finalised as a result of this activity.
    • a total of 89.2% of tax liabilities were paid on time.

    Serious and organised crime

    We work with and support law enforcement agencies, including the Criminal Assets Confiscation Taskforce, to remove profit from organised crime. We use data matching and analytics to identify and investigate unexplained wealth generated from illegal activities.

    • As at 30 June 2015, we completed 254 serious and organised crime audits and reviews raising around $200 million in liabilities.

    Prosecutions

    We prosecute a range of matters relating to tax administration offences ourselves, including non‑compliance with lodgment obligations, making false or misleading claims on ATO forms keeping false records and failing to respond to questions when required to do so.

    • In 2014–15 we prosecuted over 1,200 individuals and 300 companies. Of those cases:  
      • around 600 related to GST,
      • 1,400 to income tax, and
      • one related to superannuation.
    • Fines, costs and reparation orders totalling over $9.8 million were imposed
    • 18 of our successful prosecutions related to information received from overseas authorities and informants.
    • There have been 46 successful Project Wickenby prosecutions for serious offences.
    • In addition to prosecutions under Project Wickenby, 35 people were sentenced during 2014–15 for serious criminal matters. Sentences ranged from good behaviour bonds to imprisonment.
    • Reparation orders of around $10 million were also made.

    Individuals

    In addition to myTax, we continued to offer a service that pre‑fills information directly into individual income tax returns. We worked closely with data providers over the year, encouraging them to provide data to us early, with a focus on improving the integrity of reported data to support users of our pre‑fill service.

    We made close to 96 million transactions available for pre-filling, with taxpayers downloading more than 49 million of those transactions.

    During 2014–15:

    • We used over 650 million transactions reported by third parties to match individual income tax returns and other income statements. We are using increasingly sophisticated data analytics and risk modelling to identify and review income tax returns that may omit information or contain incorrect statements.
    • We conducted around 450,000 reviews and audits resulting in revenue adjustments of over $1.1 billion in income tax. Cases involved omitted income or over-claimed entitlements such as deductions or offsets, including those significantly different to claims made by taxpayers in similar circumstances.

    In addition to the direct revenue raised through our data‑matching compliance activities, we received indirect revenue as a result of these activities. Examples include:

    • over 1.1 million taxpayers who were subject to a review or audit in a prior year were fully compliant in subsequent years, resulting in additional revenue of approximately $655 million
    • around 260,000 taxpayers who received a low‑value discrepancy warning letter in a prior year became fully compliant in subsequent years, resulting in additional revenue of around $23 million.

    Small businesses

    • We continued to review the tax affairs of businesses that engage workers to ensure they were meeting their obligations toward their workers. We reviewed over 26,000 businesses during the year, raising liabilities of $910 million.
    • Fuel tax credit claimants were affected by changes that included repeal of the carbon tax and fuel excise indexation. We supported claimants through this by providing refreshed and streamlined online information, webinars, a new fuel tax credit calculator in the ATO app, and sharing information through social media and other channels.
    • We made over 280,000 compliance or assistance contacts with small businesses exposed to the cash and hidden economy. This work was supported by improved analytics and better data about electronic payments, online advertising and online business. In the course of the year, over $220 million in tax and penalties were raised from activities undertaken to protect honest businesses.

    Privately owned and wealthy groups

    In 2014–15, we:

    • sent over 30,000 letters to low‑risk entities, to let them know we did not intend to make any further enquiries into their tax affairs in certain financial years
    • made around 2,100 reports available to groups that set out our view of their tax risks and issues attracting our attention
    • completed more than 9,400 compliance activities on privately‑owned and wealthy groups, raising over $2.1 billion in liabilities and nearly $1 billion in cash collections (this includes around 800 compliance activities on high wealth individuals, raising around $680 million in liabilities and collecting over $440 million in cash).

    At 30 June 2015, we had received over 5,800 disclosures as part of Project DO IT, our offshore income and asset disclosure initiative. This has resulted in over $5 billion in assets declared and over $600 million of omitted income disclosed, raising over $153 million in liabilities and $127 million in collections. We anticipate significant future tax collections as a result of the assets and income being brought into the tax system under this initiative.

    Intelligence from Project DO IT will help to detect and deal with inappropriate offshore arrangements, including those who chose not to voluntarily disclose income. Where appropriate, we will share this information with other jurisdictions.

    Publicly listed businesses

    • Based on our intelligence, analysis and activities, we know that the majority of large businesses operate within the law and pay the right amount of tax. This is evidenced by company income tax receipts continuing to move in line with macro-economic indicators, reflecting broad compliance by corporate taxpayers with their income tax obligations.
    • In 2014–15, we undertook approximately 50 audits and 520 reviews of large businesses, including 280 cases under our risk program for large public groups. These activities resulted in liabilities raised of around $2.5 billion and cash collected of $1.6 billion.

    Not for profit

    We recognise the important role of the Not-for-profit (NFP) sector in the Australian community and know that a significant proportion of the sector’s workforce are volunteers – our main focus is to provide tailored and timely support to these organisations to help them understand their tax obligations and concessions. In 2014–15 we released a NFP administrator handover checklist and improved our guidance on how to register for an Australian business number.

    Although most people in this sector try to do the right thing, where we find that people are deliberately seeking to avoid their tax and super obligations we take firm action to address this.

    • In 2014–15 we undertook compliance action on 259 cases resulting in $20.8M in cash collections.

    Super funds

    • During 2014–15, we disqualified approximately 660 trustees and made 92 funds non‑complying, removing their tax concessions.

    Excise payers

    • We raised excise revenue liabilities of $44 million from our compliance activities and collected $31 million in cash (including collections from liabilities raised in previous years).
    • For excise transfers (predominantly fuel tax credits), our compliance activities resulted in adjustments in favour of taxpayers of $54.5 million, and adjustments in our favour of $21.6 million.
    • Of adjustments in our favour, we collected $12.5 million and a further $30.1 million from liabilities raised in previous years.

    Tax professionals

    The Tax Practitioners Board is an independent statutory body responsible for regulating tax agent services, including business activity statement (BAS) preparation services in Australia. The board administers the Tax Agent Services Act 2009 (the Act) and reports to the Assistant Treasurer.

    The board’s objective is to assure the community that tax practitioners meet appropriate standards of professional and ethical conduct. To support the board in achieving its outcomes we identified and referred 66 cases of potential breaches of the Act. Of those referrals:

    • 58 cases were for registered agent misconduct (56 for registered tax agents and two for registered BAS agents) and
    • eight were for unregistered agent behaviour.
    Last modified: 29 Oct 2015QC 47201