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GST refund fraud attempts

The ATO does not offer loans. If you see someone advertising a quick way to get a loan from the ATO, this is fraud.

Last updated 26 October 2023

We have identified a significant number of GST refund fraud attempts.

The attempted fraud involves an individual:

  • inventing a fake business
  • lodging a fraudulent Australian business number (ABN) application, and
  • submitting fictitious business activity statements (BAS) to attempt to gain a false GST refund.

The fraudulent activity has been circulating as online advertising and content, particularly on social media. We are working with digital platforms to shut down this advertising.

Reminders for the community

Registering for an ABN and applying for GST refunds when you don't own or operate a business or are not eligible is fraud. Remember:

  • The ATO does not offer loans. If you see someone advertising a way to get a loan from the ATO, it's not legitimate.
  • The ATO does not administer COVID disaster payments.
  • If you are not operating a business, you do not need an ABN, and you don’t need to lodge a BAS.
  • Backdating your business registration so you can apply for a refund will flag you as high risk in our systems.
  • False declarations may impact eligibility for other government payments.
  • We have the data matching ability to detect these patterns and stop the fraud.
  • You are liable to repay the entire amount of any fraudulently obtained GST refund, regardless of what you paid someone to lodge a BAS on your behalf.
  • Selling or sharing your myGov credentials may result in other people accessing your personal information and using it for their financial gain.

If something seems too good to be true, seek independent advice from an adviser who has no connection to the arrangement before taking any action, or phone us.

What to do if you are involved

If you become involved in this arrangement, talk to us now. We'll be able to support you with a range of self-help options. You may be able to correct it yourself, we may be able to assist you, or we may refer you to a trusted advisor like a tax agent to help you.

We are urging anyone already involved to come forward now on a voluntary basis rather than face tougher consequences later. We will be recouping the funds, and there will be a better outcome for you if you come to us first. You can phone us on 1300 130 017

Correct it yourself

You may be able to correct this yourself. You will need to follow the steps in this order:

  1. Revise your activity statement
  2. Cancel your ABNExternal Link
  3. Cancel your GST registration
  4. Set up a payment arrangement

If you need assistance, phone us on 1300 130 017.

If you think your identity has been compromised

If you think you've become involved in this arrangement because your identity was compromised, phone us on 1800 467 033 as we will need to put additional controls on your account.

Tax fraud, evasion and crime is not victimless, it's a serious offence that takes money away from the community and away from essential services like health and education.

We take all reports of tax crime seriously. If you have any information to share, you can make a tip-off. Reports can be made anonymously.

GST refund fraudsters are held to account

Refund fraud is claiming a tax refund or other benefit by providing false information to the ATO. It is more than a careless or accidental mistake because it is undertaken in a deliberate and deceitful way. We view GST refund fraud seriously. For some, this has resulted in prosecution or criminal charges as these dishonest individuals have found out.

Media releases

Authorised by the Australian Government, Canberra.  

These case studies show that we take GST refund fraud very seriously.

Sentencing details for Operation Protego, an ATO-led investigation into large-scale GST fraud.