Who’s a tax dobber?

- July 29, 2022 2 MIN READ
Who's a tax dobber

Turning tax dobber on your ex seems to be the ultimate revenge in a relationship breakdown. But its not just ex-partners who dob…

Years ago I was chatting with a former tax commissioner about tax cheats and he was saying I would be amazed how many people get dobbed in by an ex-partner (relationship and business), employees and other family members.

It seems to be the ultimate revenge in a relationship breakdown.

The ATO estimates that the community misses out on around $11 billion in taxes each year as a result of this “shadow economy” – people and businesses not declaring their full income.

The top industries for a tax dobber

Topping the list of industries the ATO was tipped off about in the past year were building and construction, hairdressing and beauty services, cafés and restaurants, road freight transport, and management advice and related consulting services.

Tip-offs from New South Wales topped the ATO’s list with over 13,400, followed closely by Victoria (over 11,500) and Queensland (over 9,200).

And it’s not just the big cities. The top five regional locations that the ATO received tip-offs from in 2021-22 were the Sunshine Coast Hinterland (Queensland), Cairns (Queensland), Wellington (New South Wales), Wodonga (Victoria), and the Mornington Peninsula (Victoria).

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The ATO loves tip-offs

ATO Assistant Commissioner Peter Holt explained that tip-offs helped the ATO shine a light on tax avoidance and protect honest businesses. And he also clarified that it’s not just businesses the ATO has its eye on. “We know that many customers also demand to pay in cash and ask for discounts to avoid paying tax, and we also know that many workers are demanding cash especially where there is a shortage of labour. Our message is – regardless of which party is driving the behaviour – it’s illegal and we’re onto it.”

According to the ATO, there are some tell-tale signs that a business may be operating in the shadow economy, for example, ‘cash only’ signs, offering a discount for cash, not accepting card payments, failing to provide payslips to workers, not ringing up sales, or even running illegal software that deletes or modifies sales transactions.

More than 90 per cent of the 43,000 tip-offs received were followed up by the ATO.