Tax

ATO to visit 700 businesses as it hunts for black economy bandits

Matthew Elmas /

The tax office will knock on the doors of 700 businesses in Western Australia next month as part of ongoing efforts to address black economy activity and reduce the $10 billion small business tax gap.

Announcing the planned inspections on Monday, the ATO said it will be on the lookout for businesses which aren’t registered for GST or pay as you go (PAYG) withholding, alongside those with “lifestyle assets far exceeding reported business income”.

Assistant commissioner Peter Holt also listed “a lack of merchant payment facilities like EFTPOS” as a “black economy sign”, saying it will be an issue if businesses are operating cash-only in order to avoid reporting all their income.

The visits will run across Broome, Cable Beach, Derby and Kununurra, and will target certain industries, including those in the construction, building and accommodation industries. 

“We’ve received intelligence from the community that some businesses aren’t playing by the rules, such as paying their workers cash in hand and keeping them off the books,” Holt said in a statement circulated Monday.

This latest round of inspections will build on the almost 9,000 door knocks undertaken by the ATO in the last financial year.

The ongoing use of in-person visits suggests the method has proven successful in stamping out black economy activity, estimated to cost the Australian economy $50 billion each year.

The industries being targeted by the ATO are:

  • Residential building construction;
  • Building completion and installation services;
  • Other construction services;
  • Building cleaning, pest control, and gardening services;
  • Accommodation;
  • Automotive repair and maintenance;
  • Cafes, restaurants, and takeaway food services; and
  • Personal care services.

Information sessions will also be held, where the purpose of the visits will be explained by officials and additional information about single touch payroll will be provided.

This headline for this article was updated at 12:28PM AEST. A previous version of this headline characterized the ATO visits as audits.

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Matthew Elmas

Matthew is the news editor at SmartCompany. You can contact him at [email protected].

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