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  • False GST claims land WA man in jail

    A Western Australian man has been sentenced at the Perth District Court to three years jail after pleading guilty to dishonestly obtaining and attempting to obtain a financial advantage by deception. Mr Joseph Popic attempted to obtain almost $230,000 in fraudulent GST refunds he was not entitled to. In addition to his criminal conviction and jail term, Mr Popic was ordered to repay $187,486.66 in reparations.

    Between October 2014 and January 2018, Mr Popic lodged 14 quarterly business activity statements (BAS) in relation to his sole trader business ‘Joseph Popic Real Estate’. He reported the business had made $307,000 in sales and paid GST on purchases of $256,955 across this period.

    However, analysis of Mr Popic’s bank accounts showed no receipt of income from his business, and insufficient cash flow to support the purchase of the reported acquisitions. Further investigation brought to light that Mr Popic had in fact not been carrying on a business, but instead had been employed in a variety of roles throughout the offending period.

    In total, Mr Popic obtained $189,270 in fraudulent GST refunds. He also attempted to obtain an additional $39,778, however this was stopped by the ATO.

    Acting Assistant Commissioner Megan Croaker welcomed the sentence handed down.

    “We have a duty to the community to protect the integrity of the tax and super systems. Mr Popic obtained an unfair advantage over hardworking individuals and businesses who are doing the right thing,” Ms Croaker said.

    “This was not a careless or accidental mistake; this was a deliberate attempt to gain money he was not entitled to by repeatedly reporting sales and claiming GST refunds from a business that wasn’t trading,”

    “Tax crime is not victimless. Mr Popic effectively stole money from the pockets of taxpayers, money otherwise set to fund vital public services that the community relies upon.”

    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: 28 Jan 2022QC 67705