Card payments and online sales are what I would deem ‘the usual suspects’ but ride sourcing is a relatively new (though unsurprising) addition to the ATO’s hit list.
Every year, the ATO collects new data from financial institutions and matches this data with its own information, which is sourced from income tax returns, activity statements and other tax records. It says that its current data matching activities are focused on gathering data on:
- the total credit and debit card payments received by businesses
- information on sellers using online selling platforms (specifically those who sold at least $12,000 worth of goods or services)
- details of payments made to ride-sourcing drivers from accounts held by the ride-sourcing facilitator.
The ATO then matches this data with information held in its databases to identify any discrepancies.
“Data matching helps us identify businesses that may need some assistance,” the ATO says (that always make me chuckle), “as well as those that get an unfair advantage over honest businesses by not reporting all their income or meeting their registration, lodgment or payment obligations.”
The ATO advises businesses, or indeed all taxpayers, that if they think they’ve made a mistake or left something out to contact either the ATO or their registered tax adviser to correct the mistake or to amend the relevant return.
“You can also make a voluntary disclosure – we may reduce or even waive penalties if you make a disclosure before we contact you,” it says.
The ATO adds that if any taxpayer thinks a person or a business is gaining an unfair advantage, that they can report a concern and “help us protect honest businesses”. This can even be done anonymously (see more here).
This is ATO speak for you can roll the dice and take your chances that you won’t be caught out or dobbed in – eventually you will be – or you can ‘remember’ those things you left out before you are contacted for an explanation and enjoy a significantly reduced penalty.