Marketing company repays $22,500 in misused JobKeeper stimulus

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A marketing company has been made to repay $22,500 in JobKepeer funding, after the Australian Taxation Office received a tip-off the business was misusing the stimulus payments.

The ATO said the tip-off alleged the marketing company had incorrectly claimed JobKeeper for its employees, which came to a total of $12,000 per month.

The ATO’s investigation found two of the company’s four employees were ineligible for JobKeeper, because one was on work experience and not receiving any wages, and the other was hired after March 1, 2020.

The two remaining employees were eligible for JobKeeper, however, the ATO said their employer did not pay them the full $1,500 per fortnight in some periods.

“We determined that it was not an honest mistake and required the employer to repay $22,500,” the ATO said.

The ATO says it is closely tracking the misuse of pandemic support.

In the 2019-20 financial year, it received approximately 56,000 tip-offs, and in the 2020-21 financial year so far, it has received 19,000 tip-offs. According to the tax office, 16% of these tip-offs relate to the misuse of COVID-19 stimulus.

The ATO and the Serious Financial Crime Taskforce (made up of ATO and Australian Federal Police employees) are currently undertaking 19 criminal investigations into allegations of businesses rorting JobKeeper, The Guardian reports.

Another tip-off led the ATO to investigate a sole trader that claimed JobKeeper for one employee who was also their spouse.

“After JobKeeper was announced, the employer lodged backdated Single Touch Payroll data and BAS to show payments to the spouse and PAYGW,” the ATO said.

“There was no other history of employment. Bank statements did not show the wage payments being made to the spouse.”

The ATO required the sole trader to repay $6,000.

According to the ATO, JobKeeper tip-offs commonly involve complaints about employers not passing on the full $1,500, businesses not meeting the turnover requirement, fair work issues, and concerns about employee eligibility.

The top five industries reported in tip-offs in the 2020 financial year were construction, hospitality, beauty services, cereal grain wholesaling, consulting services and road freight transport.

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