ATO Scams

‘This is the ATO. If you don’t pay $10,000 immediately, we will have you arrested’

Now that kind of phone call isn’t pleasant any time of the day.  And even though your rational mind tells you it is obviously a scam it can still leave you with a pounding heart and wondering if you lodged your tax return on time this year.

ATO scam calls went through the roof in November 2019 with the ATO stating that it received over 27,000 reports of scam calls in that month alone.

We also seem to receive reports from our clients of scam calls around BAS lodgement and payment dates.

Spare a thought for the more vulnerable who do provide personal details, including tax file numbers, and transfer money believing it is truly the ATO.  With estimates of $830,000 lost in ATO scams in November it pays to ensure you are not caught off guard, and to advise those of your family and friends who may be vulnerable.

The ATO provides the following tips in relation to scam calls:

  • Scammers are often aggressive or abusive
  • They will often threaten you with immediate arrest
  • They request payment via unusual methods such as iTunes gift cards or other prepaid cards
  • They request personal security information such as your tax file number (TFN) or bank details via email or SMS or social media sites
  • They ask for money in order to process a refund or other payment

That being said, I have had an elderly client receive quite a threatening call demanding payment and it actually was the ATO!  Once the matter was resolved I did report that particular ATO customer service representative.

If you have a tax agent, in most circumstances, the ATO should not be contacting you directly.  If you are unsure about the call just hang up and contact your agent.

If you don’t have an agent then you should hang up and call the ATO directly and/or check your MyGov account.  Alternatively, appoint a tax agent to be your liaison with the ATO and all things tax related.

Do not provide personal or financial details to someone over the phone.  Do not click on a link or reply to an SMS from the ATO. Do not call back on a number the caller provides.

If you want to appoint a tax agent please give us a call on 03 9848 4458. If you received a scam phone call you can report it to the ATO on 1800 008 540.

Single Touch Payroll for small employers – 1 July 2019 start date

You may have heard about ‘Single Touch Payroll’ (STP).  It is a new reporting system required by the ATO in relation to payroll reporting.  It effectively requires ‘real time’ reporting of employees’ wages, tax and superannuation information. 

Employers with more than 20 employees had to comply with this system by six months ago.  But the fun now begins as the law extends to apply STP to employers with 19 or less employees effective on 1 July 2019.

In the past payroll information has only been supplied on a quarterly and annual basis.  Now it will need to be sent to the ATO every time you do a pay run.

If you already use a software package to report your software you should talk to your provider about the STP functionality.

If you complete your payroll manually the ATO is encouraging employers to use a software system, but will have some other alternative available where your tax agent can lodge on your behalf.

‘Micro-employers’, that being employers with between 1 to 4 employees, can use STP software.  However, the ATO has made some concessions for this group, saying that initially they will only need to report quarterly.

It is important to keep in mind that if you, as the business owner, are receiving a wage from the business you will be counted towards the number of employees for STP purposes.  STP also means that tax planning for business owners cannot be left until just before the financial year end.

The ATO message around STP continues to be ‘don’t panic’.  But, you do need to take action now to ensure thing are in place for 1 July 2019.

Please give us a call if you have any queries regarding STP.