Show download pdf controls
  • Shadow economy

    The term ‘black economy’ has now changed to ‘shadow economy’. This change has been made to reflect the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s (OECD) definition of unreported or dishonest economic activity.

    The shadow economy affects all Australians. It refers to dishonest and criminal activities that take place outside the tax and regulatory systems.

    Although most people do the right thing, some people and businesses deliberately avoid paying the right amount of tax. Those who participate in the shadow economy reduce the funds available for essential community services, such as:

    • health care – including Medicare and hospitals
    • disaster response – for example, during bushfires, floods, droughts, COVID-19
    • education – including schools and teachers
    • transport and infrastructure – including airports, roads and railways.

    For details on how this affects everyone, see The shadow economy explained.

    Learn more in the video What is the shadow economy?

    Media: What is the shadow economy? Link (Duration: 1:38)

    The ATO is committed to tackling the shadow economy and creating a level playing field – see, The whole-of-government shadow economy action plan.

    Those participating in the shadow economy continue to fuel it – regardless of the monetary value of the activity or whether they're a consumer, business or employee.

    By doing the right thing, you can help protect Australia from the shadow economy and keep the system fair for everyone – see, What you can do.

    Last modified: 18 Jul 2022QC 58310