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

The ATO has recently identified a rise in GST fraud events. Tax fraud, evasion and crime may seem victimless, but it takes money away from the community and from essential services like health and education. 

The attempted fraud involves:

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

These fraudulent activities are often found through online advertising and content, particularly on social media. The ATO is working with digital platforms to get this shut down. 

The online advertisements often promote obtaining a TFN or ABN on behalf of the person/business for a fee. Instead of delivering this service, the scammer uses these fraudulent websites to steal both money and personal information.

The ATO wants to remind people 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 are not operating 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 fraud.

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

What to do if you find yourself caught up in this scheme:

The most important thing to do if you have found yourself caught up in this scheme is to talk to the ATO NOW. They will be able to guide you with some self-help options, fix it for you or advise you to seek advice from a tax agent. 

The ATO has warned everyone involved to come forward voluntarily as they could face stricter consequences in the future. 

The ATO WILL be recouping these funds, and your outcome will be better if you come forward first. 

How to correct it yourself:

You can correct this yourself by actioning the below:

  1. Revise your activity statement
  2. Cancel your ABN
  3. Cancel your GST registration
  4. Set up a payment arrangement

If you think your identity has been compromised:

Having your identity stolen can have devastating financial consequences. If you think your identity has been compromised, you need to contact the ATO immediately so they can put extra measures on your account. 

If you have any information about tax crime, you can report this to the ATO anonymously. 

How to contact the ATO: If you need to get the ATO regarding any of the above, you can call them on 1300 130 017.