A Brisbane-based business owner has been sentenced to four years and six months in jail for defrauding taxpayers out of almost $600,000.
The Brisbane District Court convicted the 56-year-old man of GST and personal income tax return fraud on Thursday, delivering the ATO another successful fraud prosecution.
The director of a wholesale distributor of wooden sticks used in ice creams and coffee stirrers in South East Queensland, the businessman allegedly fraudulently reported export sales.
A total of 39 business activity statements were lodged between January 2012 and March 2015, creating $480,680 in dodgy tax refunds, the Court heard.
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The company was placed into voluntary liquidation back in 2015, but the tax office said no attempt was made to repay the money.
The businessman also declared zero income in the 2009-2011 financial years in his personal income tax returns, skipping out on $116,056 in tax obligations, the Court heard.
In a statement about the case circulated on Thursday, ATO assistant commissioner Peter Vujanic said the case should serve as a warning for other business owners who think they can get away with defrauding taxpayers.
“Contrary to popular belief, tax crime is not victimless. By deliberately defrauding the tax and super system, including claiming a refund you’re not entitled to, you are stealing from the whole community and disadvantaging Australians who do the right thing,” he said.
The case is just the latest in a string of successful ATO fraud prosecutions so far this calendar year, as the regulator ramps up efforts to crack down on black economy activity.
A 2017 report into the black economy, which has driven the government to increase ATO funding in recent years, estimated the size of Australia’s black economy could be as large as 3% of GDP.