The only time you’re likely eager to hear from the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) is if you’re expecting a tax refund. Aside from that most Aussies tend to think of the ATO as the agency who takes 25–35% of our income.
The hope is, of course, that your hard-earned tax dollars go to funding essential government services. Not lining the pockets of crooked ATO agents.
Fraud controls must be toughened within the ATO
In response to just such an alleged incident — the Plutus Payroll scandal — a review has found that fraud controls within the Australian Taxation Office must be toughened to avoid similar cases.
In September 2016, Operation Elbrus started. They found that roughly $130 million was stolen from the ATO. According to AAP, 10 people are now facing the courts for their alleged involvement.
Straw directors, a syndicate of companies and bank accounts, including that of Michael Cranston, former ATO deputy commissioner, were wedged in the alleged scheme.
The AAP notes that Ms Cranston is set to go to trial in January 2019.
The ATO should be checking for internal fraud
There was no evidence of systemic corruption or fraud found in a review completed by the inspector-general of taxation.
However, 13 recommendations were made by the watchdog. These include; mandatory fraud awareness training, periodic reviews of corporate integrity indicators and better staff recruitment processes.
And just as well. It should be ATO standard to check and conduct reviews internal fraud investigations periodically. As well as measuring appropriate disciplinary actions.
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