Tax

Deli deceit: Man jailed for seven years after claiming $5 million for his wife’s retail website

Matthew Elmas /

A Brisbane man who tried to steal $1.2 million from taxpayers through his wife’s deli business has been sentenced to seven years jail by the Brisbane District Court.

The man lodged a total of 46 dodgy Business Activity Statements (BAS) between March 2009 and October 2012, claiming website construction and consultation fees for the deli, the Court heard.

A whopping $5 million was claimed for developing a website for the deli business, while a further $2.6 million was lodged under “franchise development”.

The man is one of a growing number of business owners convicted of tax fraud so far this year in what appears to be a further crackdown on black economy activity, particularly GST fraud.

The increasing sophistication of ATO systems has been previously cited by experts as a reason for the pressure on black economy operators.

Earlier this month the ATO said it would be casting a keen eye over cash businesses in a bid to root out dodgy business owners.

Despite accounting for 92% of all the retail businesses’ expenditure, 24 invoices produced as evidence for the claims were never paid.

An ATO investigation found the website cost just $7,885 to produce, while the business development claims were found to be fraudulent.

Assistant commissioner Peter Vujanic described the fraud as “brazen”.

“This wasn’t an honest mistake by a small-business owner trying to do the right thing — it was a calculated and deliberate attempt to commit fraud and steal money from taxpayers,” he said in a statement circulated on Thursday.

“As this case demonstrates, if you’re caught breaking the law we will hold you accountable, even if it means pursuing you in the criminal judicial system,” Vujanic said.

NOW READ: Man jailed for 30 months over tax fraud following ATO audit

NOW READ: Melbourne businessman sentenced to four years jail over $1 million in GST refunds to ATO

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Matthew Elmas

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

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