Tax Alert: ATO continuing to focus on the cash economy


This month ATO Assistant Commissioner Peter Holt announced that the 2019/20 financial year will see a continued focus by the ATO on the cash economy.

Mr Holt noted, “Businesses that pay cash in hand, or fail to lodge income tax or business activity statements, get an unfair advantage and make it harder for other businesses who are doing the right thing. By detecting and addressing this behaviour, we’re helping ensure a level playing field for honest small businesses.

In the 2019/20 financial year, the ATO is intending to visit a further 10,000 small businesses across the country (including up to 500 small businesses in Tasmania). In particular, businesses that advertise as 'cash only' and businesses that are operating outside of the ATO's performance benchmarks for their industry will be targeted for a visit

Businesses in the following industries were noted to be more likely to get a visit:

  • Restaurants and cafes;

  • Vehicle repairers;

  • Personal care businesses including hairdressers and nail salons;

  • Pharmacies;

  • Construction businesses;

  • Clothing stores;

  • Grocery stores / small supermarkets; and

  • Butchers.

Mr Holt was quick to note that the ATO would not hesitate in taking strong enforcement action against those deliberately avoiding their tax and super obligations. He encouraged businesses to let the ATO know if they have made mistakes and to work with the ATO or their to tax professional to rectify the situation.

If you operate a business and have questions or concerns about whether you are meeting your tax and super obligations, please do not hesitate to contact us.

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