Businesses and individuals still owe the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) hundreds of millions of dollars for attempting to embezzle stimulus payments such as the JobKeeper wage subsidy, declared ineligible or overpaid.
- Criminal Investigations Focus on JobKeeper Wage Subsidy Challenge and Super Diets Early Release
- ATO has so far identified $ 284 million in JobKeeper overpayments and recovered approximately $ 138 million
- Some companies had invented salaries to get the cash flow increase subsidy and are sued
An ATO spokesperson told ABC News that as part of its JobKeeper compliance program, the agency has reviewed more than 200 cases of suspected fraud against the JobKeeper payment program.
Since the JobKeeper wage subsidy was introduced a year ago in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, nearly 3.8 million employees, employed by more than one million companies, have received more than 89 billions of dollars in payments.
As part of the Serious Financial Crime Taskforce, Australian Federal Police are leading nine ongoing operations that focus on tackling suspected stimulus crime.
Regarding JobKeeper, he said, while many of these cases would not result in criminal charges, the ATO was pursuing cases “where there are more deliberate or intentional arrangements, where there are there are more sophisticated arrangements and repeated attempts, or arrangements involving a tax professional. “
He said of the cases examined for potentially fraudulent behavior, the agency had completed 20 investigations and currently has five ongoing investigations.
“Two people have already been convicted of making false and misleading statements against the Taxation Administration Act 1953, while two people are currently in court for allegedly making a false and misleading statement,” he said.
“We have also issued six warning letters regarding cases of JobKeeper. After investigating three other cases, we felt that criminal prosecution was not appropriate.”
He said the agency had applied sanctions to more than 115 JobKeeper cases.
JobKeeper’s overpayments reach $ 284 million
The ATO also recovered the overpayments.
He had so far identified $ 284 million in JobKeeper overpayments and recovered around $ 138 million, with some of the money recovered linked to people deliberately acting to defraud the system.
The ATO spokesperson said the agency was still seeking an additional $ 82 million and not $ 64 million because it considered it had been “claimed in good faith and passed on to employees.”
Some companies that have publicly stated that they have paid or are refunding JobKeeper funds include Toyota, Domino’s, and Super Retail Group, but there are many more.
The ATO spokesperson said that to date, 47 companies are looking to reimburse JobKeeper.
“Of these, 33 [companies] have repaid $ 159 million, there are 14 others that the ATO is in talks with for an additional $ 66 million, and [there is] a total of 225 million dollars to be repaid, ”he said.
Four criminal investigations into an ultra-early release program
During Super’s early release, the ATO spokesperson said there were four criminal investigations, up from six.
About 4.55 million claims worth $ 38 billion had already been approved by the ATO for more than 3 million people.
He said about 2,800 claims, valued at less than $ 18 million, were made by people suspected of trying to defraud the system by trying to steal someone else’s identity. – most of this amount has not been released or has been recovered from fraudsters.
After the initial application process, compliance activity was undertaken and fewer than 700 people were found to be ineligible for the COVID-19 early release from the super program.
Of this group, 84 percent had submitted ineligible applications within two fiscal years and 16 percent had at least one application deemed ineligible. These people have received funds from their super accounts.
This had resulted in the inclusion of $ 12 million of super discharged as assessable.
Increased small business cash flow denied to hundreds of businesses
Some companies had invented wages to get the subsidy to increase cash flow.
The ATO spokesperson said the agency had suspended cash flow increase credits for around 29,500 entities while verifying their eligibility, resulting in adjustments to payments made to around 5,500 entities. .
He is currently investigating a case for an alleged criminal offense.
He said the agency had supported 817,000 small businesses with $ 35.5 billion in payments.
ATO systems prevented approximately 243,000 ineligible entities from receiving Cash Flow Boost credits when they filed their activity declarations.
The ATO denied 110 entities payment due to evidence of tax schemes and denied 1,000 entities due to their cumulative turnover of over $ 50 million.