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How to report tax fraud

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Last editedJune 20212 min read

If you have been a victim of fraud, or simply suspect it, there are several ways you can report it. Here’s our guide on how you can get in contact with the ATO, report fraud, or make a tip-off, starting with our fraud definition.

What is fraud?

The basic fraud definition doesn’t change because it occurs in a business environment. If someone is purposefully performing in a criminally deceptive way with the intention of personal financial gain, that is fraud.

If you suspect such activity, you can contact the Australian Taxation Office or ATO, report fraud, and hopefully help catch the criminals involved. The ATO will act on a variety of frauds, meaning that tax fraud isn’t the only type of fraud that you can report. All of the below can also be reported to the ATO:

  • Cash deals or ‘cashy’ deals that you see or are offered

  • Jobs that pay in cash without payslips

  • Under-reported income

  • False contract terms

  • Illegal purchases, such as property by a non-resident

  • Money laundering

  • Identity fraud

  • Counterfeit goods

Tax fraud refers to any instance of an individual or company intentionally being inaccurate on their tax return in an attempt to minimise how much tax they are due to pay. Needless to say, it is illegal. 

How can I report tax fraud?

If you suspect tax fraud, either of an individual or a business, you should contact the ATO. The ATO accepts tip-offs submitted online through its official website, or you can call its hotline. You can also call your local police to report any criminal activity. Tip-offs can be made anonymously.

The more detail you can provide in your tip-off, the better. You should include the following:

  • Name of business/individual

  • Address

  • Phone number

  • Website (for business)

  • Australian Business Number (for business)

  • Social media details

  • Details of the suspicious behaviour you have witnessed

How do I know to report tax fraud?

It’s the job of the ATO to look into tax fraud, meaning you don’t have to become a detective to report tax fraud. Often, there will be clues which impact other areas of a business that suggest the owners are attempting to commit fraud and likely not being truthful in their official financial documentation. Examples include:

  • Personal expenses being claimed on a business account

  • Businesses paying employees less than they should, or later than agreed

  • Businesses that aren’t paying the required employee benefits

  • A lack of processes, knowledge, or commitment to creating accurate and timely tax reports

  • A lifestyle that doesn’t match a person’s salary

If you work in tax accountancy, you can report others who are falsely presenting themselves as tax professionals, or you can report your client themselves if you think they are, or have been, guilty of tax fraud.

What happens after I report fraud?

Due to privacy laws, you won’t be able to track what happens after you report fraud, or be given progress updates on what the ATO has done as a result of the information you shared. That said, you may witness the impact of any sentencing first-hand if you have reported a company you work with.

Can you be imprisoned for tax fraud?

Yes, in Australia, tax fraud can be punished with prison, the maximum penalty being 10 years. You cannot claim to simply “not know” the correct way of filling in a tax return, this will not be considered a valid defence.

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