We can’t believe that, for all the great work the ATO has done with implementing the Covid-19 support packages, it’s decided to blow up that good work.
Last week (23 June) the ATO released a statement ‘ATO zeroes in on COVID-19 fraud’. The ATO has declared that it reckons lots of Australians are committing fraud in applying for Covid-19 support (JobKeeper, Cash Flow Boost, early release of super, etc.) But look at what they are targeting.
They are chasing people the ATO says are:
The problem is that each area the ATO is targeting is open to wide discretionary interpretation by the ATO. And if the ATO reckons you’re a fraudster, that’s it! Your access to independent appeal is essentially non-existent.
Look at this example:
This is effectively the ATO making law on the run, using its discretionary interpretation powers. The consequence is that no-one can trust what the government says. The government gives and then the ATO takes it away and calls you a fraudster.
And look at this:
We gave evidence last Friday to the Parliamentary Committee that oversees the ATO. We explained that the there is a great sickness in the ATO’s audit and enforcement division. We described the situations above. Here’s what we said. And you can listen to our evidence here.
The problem is that there are no independent oversight or appeals processes against ATO audits. And the evidence is overwhelming that the ATO abuses its powers as well as doing bad quality audits. This ATO behaviour trashes trust in the government’s Covid-19 support packages. The harm is immense.
And more. So many thousands of ATO officers have done a stunning job during Covid-19. Yet the out-of-control ATO audit and enforcement division smashes that great work, trashing the ATO’s reputation in the process!!! So wrong!
This situation has got to be fixed.
Ken Phillips and the