The ATO is rolling out new data matching initiatives to detect those deliberately using cash to hide income and avoid paying their fair share of tax.
According to Senior Assistant Commissioner Katie Welsh, 'with increasing sources of data in 2012, our ability to identify people who haven't declared all of their cash income or who are not lodging returns at all has increased. Therefore we have a greater chance of finding people who are doing the wrong thing.'
'It's just one of the ways we identify those operating outside of the system, who don't just break the law, but cheat the Australian community.'
We cooperate and share information with a range of bodies including state and Australian Government law enforcement agencies, as well as other government departments and agencies. Existing data matching programs used to detect cash economy activity focus on credit and debit card transactions by businesses and motor vehicle purchases of individuals or businesses.
New data matching programs focus on the building and coffee shop industries. Coffee supplier and building industry data has been obtained to identify businesses not correctly reporting their sales, operating off-the-books or underground, and risks of non-compliant behaviour of those involved in the coffee industry
'The ATO takes very seriously the responsibility we have been given of ensuring better compliance with the tax system', Katie said.
'Our intent is to identify those participating in the cash economy who are potentially skimming some or all of their cash takings or in other ways not reporting all of their income.
'Our message is clear. If you are not paying your fair share of tax on all of your earnings, you will be caught. It's how we ensure a level playing field for everyone.'
In the past year the ATO matched more than 500 million transactions.
Where appropriate, data matching is used to support default assessments of a business' tax liabilities.
For more information about data matching programs and our cash economy compliance activities visit www.ato.gov.au/casheconomy
A clear link exists between compliance with tax obligations and good record-keeping practices. Having complete and accurate business records helps a business to ensure it is meeting all of its tax obligations and can assist in substantiating business performance. Record keeping is therefore an important focus of the ATO's compliance, assistance and education strategies.
This year the ATO is paying particular attention to the plastering and coffee shop industries to provide the assistance people in these industries need to meet their obligations.