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ATO Warns Against GST Fraud Attempts

Registering for an ABN and applying for GST refunds when you don’t own a business or are not eligible is fraud.

The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) has identified a significant number of GST refund fraud attempts, totalling an estimated $850 million to around 40,000 individuals. This fraud involves predominantly participants inventing fake businesses to claim false refunds.

Sophisticated risk models deployed by the ATO, coupled with intelligence received from banks including through the AUSTRAC-led Fintel Alliance and the Reserve Bank of Australia, identified a recent spike in suspicious refunds. Currently, the ATO has stopped $770 million in payments from being issued.

The fraud involves offenders inventing fake businesses and Australian Business Number (ABN) applications, many in their own names, then submitting fictitious Business Activity Statements in an attempt to gain a false GST refund.

Currently, this fraudulent activity has been circulating as online advertising and content, particularly on social media and their platforms. 

Reminders For The Community

What This Means For Businesses:

Were You Involved?

The ATO is urging anyone already involved to come forward now on a voluntary basis rather than face tougher consequences later. They will be recouping the funds, and there will likely be a better outcome for you if you approach them first. 

People who have participated in this fraud may have unwittingly followed advice they have read online, claiming to help access a loan from the ATO, or receive other financial government support such as a disaster payment.

However, for others where there was nothing accidental or unintentional about setting up a fake business in their own name and seeking an unearned refund, harsher penalties could be faced.

If you become involved in this arrangement, you need to speak with the ATO now. They will 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 you may be referred to a trusted advisor like a tax agent (such as us) to help you.

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Inflation, Your Business And How To Deal With The Upcoming Pressure.

Posted on July 4, 2022 by admin

Understanding how and preparing your business for the impact of inflation is a critical element of business planning that now more than ever needs to be addressed.

Interest rates rising are putting a strain on businesses across the country, as the costs for running these businesses rise in turn. Further spikes in inflation could provide additional challenges for businesses and their owners who are struggling to prepare for them.

With interest rates forecast to increase exponentially over the next year, here are some methods you can employ to address the risk inflation may pose to you.

Improve Productivity And Efficiency

Now is the time to review processes and output and look at ways to improve or streamline your operations, such as automation of processes including business software.

This could include

Strategically Cutting Costs

Review your current service providers and contracts such as telecommunications and internet providers, commercial property leases and service contracts, and compare the current market. You may find that there are better deals or options that allow you to minimise costs without impacting your business’s performance and options overly much.

However, be mindful not to cut marketing spending or communications capabilities which could cost you business in the long term.

Revisit Your Banking And Financial Products Needs

Look beyond your short-term needs and make sure that the interest rate on your business loans is competitive and weigh the benefits of variable and fixed rates.

Develop A Pricing Strategy

Rather than a price increase, look at ways you can leverage or bundle your existing goods and services.

If you are selling products, understand that there is a link between your client relationship and your pricing. Pricing too high all of a sudden could impact how your business is viewed by customers, but pricing too low will be detrimental to your business.

It could be cheaper for your business to offer a discount on upfront or prompt payments, rather than maintain an overdraft that accrues higher interest rates.

Consider Your Supply Chain

Overseas markets are volatile at the moment, so consider reducing risks by finding a domestic supplier which could also slash the costs of freight and storage. Create backup supply chains to mitigate the risk of having a ‘singular’ supply chain that could be impacted by market disruptions.

Review Your Workforce

The labour market is competitive, and you want to keep talented staff. Consider offering flexible work arrangements, offering nine-day fortnights rather than pay increases, and looking for training and development opportunities, particularly those that are subsidised by the government.

If an employee is not providing value to the business (such as working in a redundant position or failing to meet work expectations that are reasonable to expect from them), it may be better for the business to let them go.

Are you concerned about how inflation could impact your business? Speaking with a trusted business adviser (such as your accountant) may assuage some of those concerns, as they can provide you with a formulated plan that targets your business’s year ahead.

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