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  • ATO heads to the top end to protect honest businesses from the black economy

    The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) is planning to visit around 350 small businesses in Darwin in August as part of their work to tackle the black economy and protect honest Darwin businesses from unfair competition.

    Assistant Commissioner Peter Holt said ATO officers will be visiting businesses in Darwin following a number of tip-offs from the community about businesses engaging in black economy activities. “We’re concerned about some businesses in Darwin getting an unfair advantage over their honest competitors”.

    “Our intelligence suggests that some businesses are not declaring all of their income to the ATO and avoiding their obligations by not paying their entitlements like super and tax contributions. We have also received reports of some businesses operating without proper GST, PAYG withholding or ABN registrations.”

    “These businesses who are purposely not paying their fair share of tax and contributions, make it harder for other businesses who are doing the right thing. By detecting and addressing this behaviour, we’re helping to ensure a level playing field for honest small businesses in the top end”, Mr Holt said.

    During the visits, the ATO will also be running some information sessions tailored to support small businesses. A Single Touch Payroll information session will also be held on the same day. Whilst in Darwin, ATO officers will be available to help those that are trying to do the right thing. Businesses with more tax and super questions can also have a chat to one of our staff outside of these sessions.

    Darwin businesses who are operating while unregistered, not declaring income, not complying with their tax and super obligations or underpaying workers are contributing to the black economy.

    “We are committed to protecting honest businesses by ensuring all businesses operate on a level playing field. The black economy impacts everyone in the community. By working directly with small businesses we will be able to work through any issues and help them get back on track”, Mr Holt said.

    “The Black Economy Taskforce estimates that the black economy is costing the community as much as $50 billion, which is approximately three percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP),” Mr Holt said.

    “This is money that the community is missing out on for vital public services like healthcare, roads, schools, welfare, and infrastructure.”

    “During the visits, we may discuss record-keeping and payment facilities, outstanding lodgments, tax debts, and managing employee entitlements such as superannuation,” Mr Holt said.

    The visits are part of the ATO’s strategy to deal with the black economy. The ATO plans to visit almost 10,000 businesses this financial year in all states and territories, across a variety of industries. As part of the visits, ATO officers will be providing information about recent changes, such as Single Touch Payroll and the extension of the Taxable Payments Reporting System to certain industries.

    As part of the visits, the ATO will also be visiting tax practitioners of small businesses in these areas as part of our early intervention strategy. These visits will enable us to better understand the drivers behind agent behaviour and provide education and support to encourage willing participation of their clients in our tax and super systems.

    To find out more or to register for an information session, visit

    Industries more likely to be visited by the ATO

    • Building cleaning, pest control and Gardening Services
    • Automotive Repair and Maintenance
    • Building Installation/Completion Services
    • Cafes, Restaurants and Takeaway Food Services
    • Residential Building Construction

    Note to journalists: Audio of Assistant Commissioner Peter Holt discussing the business visits is available in our media centre.

    Information sessions

    Monday 26 August, 9.30am – 10.30am ACST

    Group Training Northern Territory (GTNT), 38 Woods Street

    Single Touch Payroll introduction session: Monday 26 August, 10.45am – 12.00pm ACST

    Last modified: 16 Aug 2019QC 59914