ATO to shine spotlight on small business owners

BUILDERS, small-business owners and sales managers are under the taxman's spotlight this year, as part of the tax office's compliance in focus program.

The program, which targets particular industries each year, will focus on high expense claims by building labourers, project managers and sales and marketing managers.

While ATO second commissioner Bruce Quigley said the focus was on helping people comply with tax laws, "we take firm action against people who cheat the system".

"Compliance in focus sets out what's attracting our attention and how we intend to deal with it," he said.

Every year the tax office uses matched data from more than 640 million transactions reported by banks, governments and other businesses, to help pre-fill returns and detect people trying to avoid paying tax.

Last year, the data matching system resulted in $947 million in extra revenue from 445,000 reviews and audits of various sectors.

Also under focus during tax time will be wealthy Australians, international businesses trying to shift profits to lower taxing countries, contractors and small businesses.

Mr Quigley said the tax office would be undertaking more risk reviews and audits than ever before.

"Tax crime is committed by a small minority, but affects the whole community through lost revenue," Mr Quigley said.

"We are also getting results through close co-operation with other international tax agencies, as seen recently with our work with the US and UK on tax haven data," Mr Quigley said.


Incorrect work-related expense claims:

Building and construction labourers, supervisors and project managers

Sales and Marketing managers

Rich Aussies:

500 income tax audits of Australians worth more than $30m

Tax Havens:

680 reviews and 115 audits of those using "secrecy jurisdictions" to avoid paying tax

PAYG reporting:

17,700 reviews of businesses to ensure they meet employer obligations