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  • How we protect honest business

    We know most business owners are honest and that running a business can be difficult.

    Unfortunately, there are businesses that gain an unfair advantage by not meeting all of their tax and superannuation obligations. We aim to protect honest businesses from this unfair competition by addressing black economy activities.

    The black economy refers to dishonest and criminal activities that take place outside of, or involve misuse or abuse of, the tax and regulatory systems. Examples of black economy activities include:

    • not declaring all income
    • over-reporting deductions
    • demanding (or paying for) work cash in hand to avoid obligations
    • other illegal activities, such as illicit tobacco, sham contracting and Australian business number (ABN) fraud.

    We work with industry associations, tax practitioners and businesses to understand any issues they may have. We use up-to-date third-party data and risk-analysis to find who may not be doing the right thing or who may need more help. Depending on what we find during the visit, we may contact businesses at a later stage to follow up.

    Our community doesn't tolerate unfair practices. If you see something that doesn't look right, let us know so we can follow it up.

    Register for an information session

    We are running information sessions and visiting businesses across the country to help protect honest businesses.

    To register for an information session:

    Our business visits

    When we visit, we'll talk to businesses about:

    • record keeping and payment facilities, registrations, outstanding lodgments, tax debts, and employer obligations such as super
    • how to fix mistakes
    • the benefits of electronic record keeping and payment methods
    • ATO tools and available products that can assist them
    • any other help they may need.

    Depending on what we find during the visit, we may contact businesses at a later stage to follow up. We may contact them through a phone call, a letter or an extra visit, which may result in a review or an audit.

    If we see a business deliberately doing the wrong thing, we have an obligation to do something about it.

    If you're in business and you're doing the right thing, you don’t need to worry.

    If you've made a mistake

    If you realise you've made a mistake, or left something out, it's better to come to us first. Any penalties may be reduced, for example if you:

    • haven't told us about income you have earned, including cash payments
    • claimed deductions you weren't entitled to
    • made any other statement to us that was false or misleading.

    If you need help to fix a mistake, you can either:

    • contact your registered tax or BAS agent
    • phone our free translating and interpreting service on 13 14 50.

    What businesses need to do

    All business need to:

    • declare all income, including cash, online, EFTPOS and credit and debit card sales
    • lodge tax returns
    • meet the GST obligations that apply to you, such as registering for GST and lodging businesses activity statements
    • meet your employer obligations if you have employees, such as paying them at least award rates and their super
    • practice good record keeping. Records need to explain all business transactions, be in writing and in English, and kept for at least five years.

    Make a tip-off

    If there is someone you think may be deliberately evading tax, you can report it to us confidentially.

    Try to provide as much detail as you can so we can fully assess the information. You can make a tip-off by phoning our translating and interpreting service on 13 14 50.

    More information is available in English at Protecting honest business

      Last modified: 23 Jul 2019QC 52610