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  • ATO to visit 400 businesses in inner-north Brisbane to protect the community from being fleeced

    The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) today announced that it plans to visit 400 businesses in the inner-north Brisbane suburbs of Teneriffe, New Farm, Newstead, and Fortitude Valley in October as part of their work to tackle the black economy and protect honest businesses from unfair competition.

    Assistant Commissioner Peter Holt said “Teneriffe has a long history of dealing with wool fleeces. It’s been a few decades since wool was traded here but we’re aware that some dishonest businesses are still in the business of fleecing money from the community.”

    ATO officers will be visiting businesses in these suburbs following a number of tip-offs from the community about businesses engaging in black economy activities.

    “We’ve received tip offs about businesses in these suburbs demanding cash from customers, unpaid or underpaid employee entitlements, under-reporting of sales, and businesses paying their workers cash in hand”, Mr Holt said.

    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, public parks, welfare, and transport infrastructure.” Mr Holt said.

    “We are committed to protecting honest businesses by ensuring all businesses operate on a level playing field”, Mr Holt said.

    The ATO’s own data and intelligence has suggested that Teneriffe, New Farm, Newstead, and Fortitude Valley are “at risk” suburbs for suspected black economy behaviour.

    “We don’t just rely on referrals from the community. Our intelligence suggests that some businesses in these suburbs have outstanding tax returns or BAS statements, appear to be operating in cash, or may not be complying with their employer obligations”.

    “These dishonest businesses may think they can pull the wool over our eyes but this couldn’t be further from the truth. We’re aware there is an issue and we want to protect the honest businesses in these suburbs”, Mr Holt said.

    During the visits, the ATO will also be running some information sessions tailored to support small businesses. 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.

    “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 our business visits, we attempt to notify businesses about our visits prior to arriving, for example, via a range of media channels, phone, SMS, email or letter. This includes an invitation to come to an information session to find out more”, Mr Holt said.

    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 ato.gov.au/protectinghonestbusiness.

    Registration for the information sessions is essential.

    Industries more likely to be visited by the ATO

    • Cafes, restaurants and takeaway food services
    • Computer system design and related services
    • Pharmaceutical and other store-based retailing
    • Creative and performing arts activities
    • Residential building construction
    • Postal and courier pick-up and delivery services/ other transport support services
    • Building cleaning, pest control and gardening services
    • Personal care services.

    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 is available for download from our website.

    Information session

    10.00am – 11.00am, Tuesday 8 October, New Farm Bowls Club, 969 Brunswick Street, New Farm.

    Last modified: 26 Sep 2019QC 60190