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ATO firm on deadline for contractor reporting

Last updated 20 August 2023

The Taxable payments reporting system is helping the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) expose missing income and keeping things fair for businesses.

The ATO is reminding businesses who are required to lodge a Taxable payments annual report (TPAR) to do so by 28 August 2023.

ATO Assistant Commissioner Tony Goding said the Taxable payment reporting system helps maintain a level playing field by ensuring all businesses pay their fair share of tax.

‘While most businesses do the right thing, not reporting payments to contractors and deliberately under reporting income makes it unfair for honest businesses,' Mr Goding said.

‘It may also be seen as a red flag and could prompt closer scrutiny from the ATO.’

Around $400 billion in payments made to almost 1.1 million contractors were reported in the Taxable payment reporting system in the last financial year.

‘The Taxable payments reporting system is just one tool in the ATO’s toolbelt helping expose missing income and keeping things fair for businesses doing the right thing,’ Mr Goding said.

‘We use a range of information in the TPAR to check for red flags, like not including income, not lodging tax returns or activity statements, overclaiming GST credits or mis-using Australian business numbers,’ Mr Goding said.

Businesses in the building and construction industry as well as businesses that provide cleaning, courier and road freight, information technology and security, investigation or surveillance services and have paid contractors in relation to these services need to lodge a TPAR.

The ATO recently issued more than 16,000 penalties for businesses who didn’t lodge their TPARs for previous years, despite receiving multiple reminders. The average penalty for not lodging was approximately $1,110.

‘It is getting harder for businesses to hide from the ATO, like using cash payments to avoid tax, as the TPAR data gives the ATO the extra puzzle pieces it needs to catch-out dodgy behaviour,’ Mr Goding said.

‘We know there are some who deliberately don’t report or under-report their income, making it unfair for honest businesses.

‘Dodgy businesses doing 'cashies' are being put on notice as the ATO continues to crack down on shadow economy behaviour’.

The shadow economy is estimated to cost the Australian economy $12.4 billion every year in unpaid taxes.

‘If you are asking for cash and not declaring it to the ATO, you will receive a 'please explain' from the ATO and you will be penalised. It’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when,’ Mr Goding said.

TPAR data recently enabled the ATO to investigate a cleaning company who chose not to be ‘squeaky clean’ in their tax return. A sole trader providing cleaning services reported $6,892 of income from government allowances, but no business income or expenses. The data showed they received payments of more than $80,000 from three different companies. An audit confirmed no activity statements had been lodged and the payments were never reported. As a result, their tax return was adjusted for the omitted income, and penalties were applied.

‘Every dollar of tax dodged is a dollar that can’t be used for vital services like health and aged care. The TPAR program helps to prevent billions of dollars being lost to the shadow economy,’ Mr Goding said.

Notes to journalists

  • A high-resolution headshot of ATO Assistant Commissioner Tony Goding is available from the ATO media centre.
  • Media grabs of ATO Assistant Commissioner Tony Goding discussing the shadow economy are available from the ATO Media centre.
  • ATO file footage is available for download and use in news bulletins from the ATO Media centre.
  • More information is available at
  • Information about TPAR is available in Simplified Chinese and Spanish.