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ATO crackdown on JobKeeper fraudsters claws back $75MILLION

The tax office has clawed back $75million in a crackdown on JobKeeper fraudsters.

More than 9,000 tip-offs were received by the Australian Tax Office about businesses that took the government handouts when they were not entitled to them, a parliamentary committee hearing heard on Thursday.

To be eligible for their slice of the $54billion scheme, employers needed to prove their profit fell during coronavirus lockdown against a comparable period. 

The flat payment for businesses amount to $1,500 per fortnight, per employee until September 28.

According to Jeremy Hirschhorn, the ATO Second Commissioner, the tax body is now attempting to recoup millions of dollars from false claims. 

The flat payment for businesses amount to $1,500 per fortnight, per employee until September 28. Pictured: People queuing outside Centrelink when businesses closed during coronavirus

The flat payment for businesses amount to $1,500 per fortnight, per employee until September 28. Pictured: People queuing outside Centrelink when businesses closed during coronavirus

He said about $60million was paid back ‘voluntarily’, while a further $15million was ‘forced’ back.

‘We have a smaller number of matters that are going to the police and via the serious financial crimes task force,’ he said, according to The West Australian.  

Mr Hirschhorn also explained the tax body has also paused 75,000 JobKeeper applications for some that were thought to be ineligible for compliance reasons.

While 55,000 applications were stopped in the system before the application was made, about 15,000 were found to be ineligible. 

Some of the compliance issues involved employers trying to make multiple claims in the hopes they would win multiple payments.

No fines have been issued for offending employers, but Mr Hirschhorn said penalties would likely be imposed.

‘We have a smaller number of matters that are going to the police and via the serious financial crimes task force,’ he said.

Employers needed to prove their profit fell during against a comparable period to get the payment. Pictured: A closed shop during the coronavirus pandemic in Sydney

Employers needed to prove their profit fell during against a comparable period to get the payment. Pictured: A closed shop during the coronavirus pandemic in Sydney

The hearing also revealed that, of the half-a-million people who drained their superannuation funds to survive the pandemic, 12,000 tried to claim tax deductions.

‘We have written to them advising them that there’s the potential application of anti-avoidance rules and that they might want to consider their position in their next tax return in terms of claiming a deduction in terms of that contribution.’

Of the people who made use of the early access scheme, about 60 per cent used the money to pay for everyday expenses.

From September 28, JobKeeper payments will fall to $1,200 a fortnight for full-time workers.

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