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ATO data-matching targets credit card use and property deals

feature-monopoly-200Happy New Year to everyone!

Tax in 2013 is certain to be as lively as ever, probably more so with a federal election looming. The tax promises are sure to flow thick and fast.

I'd like to start this year with an old favourite – ATO data-matching. This technique is now regularly used by the ATO to gather a wide range of information it can then trawl through to detect compliance with the tax laws. No one should underestimate the sheer volume of data the ATO now collects and with the ever-increasing sophistication of techniques to analyse and "slice-and-dice" that data, the tax affairs of Australians will come under closer scrutiny.

In its latest endeavours, the ATO has announced data-matching programs targeting offshore bank accounts, credit and debit card sales, and real property transactions. The information collected will be electronically matched with certain sections of ATO data holdings to identify non-compliance with lodgment and payment obligations under taxation laws.

The ATO intends to collect data relating to credit and debit card sales of entities for the period 1 July 2011 to 30 June 2012 from various banks and credit card companies, including the Commonwealth Bank, St George, Westpac, ANZ, NAB, American Express and Diners Club.

SMEs likely to be data-matched

The program is designed to enable the ATO to better understand and address the compliance behaviour of taxpayers through electronic bulk data-matching to identify potential ATO administrative action. This might include checks on whether tax returns or BASs have been lodged, whether all sales have correctly been returned by the merchant and/or whether GST has been correctly collected and recorded. It is expected that records relating to approximately 900,000 merchants will be matched. Many SMEs may find themselves included in this matching.

Buying and selling property won't escape the taxman's gaze either. The ATO plans to collect the names and addresses of individuals and entities transacting with real property from various sources, including state revenue offices, residential tenancy authorities, and other government agencies. The ATO aims to address non-compliance with lodgment and debt payment through electronic bulk data-matching to identify potential ATO activity.

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