Institute of Certified Bookkeepers

The ATO Have Identified a Significant Number of GST Refund Fraud Attempts. 

Tax fraud, evasion and crime is not victimless, it's a serious offence that takes money away from the community and away from essential services like health and education. The ATO has called on the public not to get involved in such activities and has asked those involved in GST fraud to cooperate with the authorities or face tough actions from the agency 

The attempted fraud involves an individual: 

  • Inventing a fake business. 
  • Lodging a fraudulent ABN application. 
  • Submitting fictitious BAS statements to attempt to gain a false GST refund. 

The fraudulent activity has been circulating as online advertising and content, particularly on social media. We are working with digital platforms to shut down this advertising. 

Employers can also warn new employees to beware of Tax File Number (TFN) application scams designed to steal their personal information. The fake TFN and ABN services are often advertised on social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. 

The advertisements offer to obtain a TFN or ABN for a fee. Instead of delivering this service, the scammer uses these fraudulent websites to steal both money and personal information.

The ATO Are Reminding the Community That: 

  • The ATO does not offer loans. If you see someone advertising a way to get a loan from the ATO, it's not legitimate. 
  • The ATO does not administer COVID disaster payments. 
  • If you arenotoperating a business, you do not need an ABN, and you don’t need to lodge a GST return. 
  • Backdating your business registration so you can apply for a refund will flag you as high risk in our systems. 
  • False declarations may impact eligibility for other government payments. 
  • We have the data matching ability to detect these patterns and stop the fraud. 

If something seems too good to be true, seek independent advice from an adviser who has no connection to the arrangement before taking any action, or the ATO.

What To Do if You Are Involved 

If you become involved in this arrangement, talk to the ATO now. The ATO may be able to support you with a range of self-help options. You may be able to correct it yourself, the ATO may be able to assist you, or they may refer you to a trusted advisor like a Tax Agent to help you. 

The ATO are urging anyone already involved to come forward now on a voluntary basis rather than face tougher consequences later.  

The ATO will be recouping the funds, and there will be a better outcome for you if you go to the ATO first. You can the ATO on 1300 130 017Registering for an ABN and applying for GST refunds when you don't own a business or are not eligible is fraud. 

Correct it Yourself

You may be able to correct this yourself. You will need to follow the steps in this order: 

If you need assistance, phone the ATO on 1300 130 017. 

If You Think Your Identity Has Been Compromised 

The ATO has seen an increase in attempts by criminals to commit refund fraud by stealing the identities of taxpayers which has coincided with an increased reliance on technology and remote working practices. Having your identity compromised can have devastating financial consequences. 

If you think you've become involved in this arrangement because your identity was compromised, phone the ATO on 1800 467 033 as they will need to put additional controls on your account. 

The ATO take all reports of tax crime seriously. If you have any information to share, you can make a tip off. Reports can be made anonymously. 

For more information, read the media releaseSourceATO – GST refund fraud attempts 

ICB Comment 

ICB recommend members adopt the Verification of a Client measure immediately for new clients 

As Bookkeepers and BAS Agents we already have an obligation to ensure we are authorised to work with the tax matters of our clients, but we also have a legal responsibility to ensure that we are satisfied with the verification of a client’s identity. It is time to start making sure you as Bookkeepers and BAS Agents have the right internal processes in place with regards to checking the identity of your clients. 

Tax practitioners who are unable to successfully verify a client’s identity and suspect potential fraud should contact the ATO immediately on 1800 467 033. 

References 

  • 10/05/22
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