Show download pdf controls
  • Escalating refund fraud ends in jail time for SA man

    A South Australian man has today been sentenced to five years jail at the Adelaide District Court. Mr Joshua Matheson has been found guilty of obtaining and attempting to obtain a financial advantage by deception after he lodged false income tax returns (ITRs), worth nearly $500,000 in fraudulent refunds.

    Mr Matheson lodged his ITRs for the 2014 and 2015 financial years (FY), falsely reporting income from multiple employers, including a butcher shop and his own business, Matho’s PCs & Recycling, IT Solutions (Matho’s PCs). In both instances, Mr Matheson reported PAYG withholding and deductions for work related expenses. These amounts resulted in a $29,451 refund for the 2014 FY, which he obtained, and a $466,328 refund for the 2015 FY, which was stopped by the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) pending further investigation.

    Upon investigation, it was found that Mr Matheson had not been employed by the butcher shop since 2012. And despite reporting income of $689,000 and tax withheld of $337,033 in his 2015 ITR, his business, Matho’s PCs, had never registered for PAYG withholding or reported any wages to the ATO. Further investigation revealed there was no evidence to substantiate his reported income.

    Acting Assistant Commissioner Megan Croaker said this result should serve as a warning to those in the community, if you deliberately attempt to obtain a refund you are not entitled to you are risking a criminal record and jail.

    “This outcome highlights that people who try to cheat the tax and super systems will get caught and we will take firm action,” Ms Croaker said.

    Mr Matheson reported money that had never been earnt, PAYG withholding that had never been paid, and work-related expenses that had never been incurred.

    “This was not a careless or accidental mistake; this was a deliberate attempt to obtain money he was not entitled to,” Ms Croaker said.

    The ATO has a range of tools and systems in place to detect potential refund fraud which are not limited to the current financial year.

    “Mr Matheson’s claims drastically grew in size over the two-year period, further demonstrating the brazen nature of this crime. Our systems quickly identified red flags to be followed up by our specialist officers. By spotting these red flags and looking closer, we were able to stop the attempted refund fraud of almost $500,000,” Ms Croaker said.

    “Tax crime is not victimless. Mr Matheson attempted to steal almost $500,000. Today’s outcome proves ATO staff and systems will identify and stop attempted fraud, with offenders bearing serious consequences including imprisonment. The ATO will not tolerate fraud which robs the Australian community.”

    You can anonymously report tax evasion and crime activities to the ATO via the app or by calling 1800 060 062.

    This matter was prosecuted by the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions.

    Last modified: 05 Nov 2021QC 67265