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  • ATO to visit 400 businesses in Bankstown following spike in dob-ins about black economy behaviour

    The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) today announced that it plans to visit around 400 Bankstown businesses in November as a result of a spike in dob-ins from the local community about black economy behaviour like paying workers ‘cash in hand’.

    Assistant Commissioner Peter Holt said the visits are part of the agency’s work to tackle the black economy and protect honest businesses from unfair competition.

    “We’ve seen a spike in tip-offs about businesses in Bankstown paying their workers in cash and not withholding tax or paying super. This is simply not on and it’s not fair for those honest businesses who are doing the right thing as well as the employees who are missing out on their super”, Mr Holt said.

    The ATO has also received intelligence that some Bankstown businesses have refused to provide tax invoices for sales, are underreporting income, and not reporting sales to the ATO.

    “Certain industries are on our radar in Bankstown, including cafes, restaurants and takeaway food services, transport businesses, building completion businesses, delivery businesses, and businesses providing cleaning, pest control and gardening services.”

    Businesses who are not declaring income, not complying with their tax and super obligations or underpaying workers are contributing to the black economy.

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

    The ATO’s upcoming visits in Bankstown are all about protecting honest businesses by ensuring all businesses are playing fair and competing on a level playing field.

    “There are significant numbers of businesses in Bankstown with more than two years of overdue income tax returns as well as large numbers of business activity statements outstanding, which is a concern to us.”

    “What they’re doing is unfair to the majority of businesses in Australia who are doing the right thing, but if businesses genuinely just need some help to get back on track, they can talk to us.”

    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. ATO officers will be available to help those that are trying to do the right thing.

    “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 around 10,000 businesses this financial year in all states and territories, across a variety of industries. As part of the visits, ATO officers will also 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 our business visits, we attempt to notify businesses about our visits before we arrive, for example, by phone, SMS, email or letter. This includes an invitation to come to an information session to find out more.”

    Officers will carry ATO identification. This is a hard plastic card with the coat of arms, the name of the officer and their photograph, and an expiry date. There is also an Australian Government watermark on the card itself.

    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

    Registration for the information sessions is essential.

    Industries more likely to be visited by the ATO

    • Cafes, restaurants and takeaway food services
    • Road passenger transport and transport support services
    • Building completion services
    • Postal and courier pick-up and delivery services
    • Building cleaning, pest control and gardening services

    Information sessions

    Tuesday 29 October, Bankstown Sports Club Grand Hall, 8 Greenfield Parade

    ATO business visits information session

    9.30am – 10.30am and 6.00pm – 7.00pm AEDT

    Single Touch Payroll introduction session

    11.00am – 12.30pm AEDT

    Note to journalists

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

    A high resolution headshot of Assistant Commissioner Peter Holt (JPEG 8.3MB) is available for download from our media centre.

    Last modified: 21 Oct 2019QC 60395