Posts Tagged ‘ATO’

  • New hotline for phoenix whistleblowers

    The Federal Government has set up a new Phoenix Hotline for whistleblowers to combat increasing phoenix activity by dishonest directors and their companies.

    Illegal phoenixing schemes are costing the economy an estimated $2.85 billion to $5.13 billion a year, according to a government report.

    From July 2017 to March 2018, the government’s Phoenix Taskforce conducted 263 audit and review cases involving phoenix behavior and secured seven convictions, raising $240 million in liabilities, with $115 million in cash already collected and returned to the community.

    Phoenix behaviour has long been a problem across a range of local industries, including printing. “Nothing provokes such an intense reaction in the printing industry as the phoenix,” wrote former Print21 editor Simon Enticknap back in 2014. “The merest hint of a company using the liquidation process to avoid paying its debts and carry on as normal is enough to raise the ire of honest, hardworking printers.”

    ‘It’s only a matter of time before the law catches up with them’: Kelly O’Dwyer, Minister for Revenue and Financial Services.

    Minister for Revenue and Financial Services Kelly O’Dwyer says the Phoenix Hotline will make it easier for whistleblowers to report suspected phoenix behaviour directly to the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) under the protection of national privacy laws.

    “It will enable timely action to be taken against companies and their directors, safeguarding employee entitlements like wages and superannuation, and ensuring taxes are collected for Government to provide the essential services Australians rely on,” said O’Dwyer.

    Employees, creditors, competing businesses and the general public can provide information or report their concerns about possible phoenix behaviour by calling the Phoenix Hotline on 1800 807 875 or online at the Australian Taxation Office website.

    O’Dwyer says the hotline builds on the work of the Government to deter phoenixing, including the announced introduction of a director identification number, new phoenix offences, new clawback powers for ASIC, the extension of the director penalty regime, addressing corporate misuse of the Fair Entitlements Guarantee Scheme, the establishment of the Phoenix Taskforce in 2014, new laws to target the non-payment of superannuation entitlements, reforms that will prevent GST fraud through phoenixing in the precious metals industry and the construction sector, as well as reforms to target black economy activities.

    “The Turnbull Government has shown its commitment to taking tough action against fraudulent behaviour like phoenixing. For those who try to beat the system, it’s only a matter of time before the law catches up with them,” says O’Dwyer.

    For Business owners

    The ATO says if you own a business, look out for any of the following behaviours from a company you are working with:

    A competitor is offering significantly lower quotes or you are given a quote that is lower than market value.

    The directors of a company you are working with have been involved with liquidated entities.

    A company you are working with requests payments to a new company.

    Recent changes of company directors and name, but the manager and staff remain the same.

    For employees or contractors

    If you’re working for a company, look out for these warning signs that your employer is involved in an illegal phoenix operation:

    You don’t receive a payslip.

    The company ABN and name changes, but the phone number or address stays the same.

    Your superannuation or other employment entitlements are not being paid.

    Your pay is late, less than what it should be or you are being paid under the minimum wage.

    Your payslip records a different employer name to whom you believe you work for.

  • Two Sides challenges paper-free billing

    Following local public backlash over the Australian Tax Office’s decision to withdraw this year’s Tax Pack from newsagents in favour of an ‘opt in’ service, paper and print lobby group Two Sides has discovered that most people still prefer paper-based communications from government and private companies alike.

    In an international survey from Two Sides carried out by research company, Toluna, 2,500 consumers were asked their opinion on a variety of billing and statement related issues with a focus on the present supplier pressure to switch to electronic bills and statements; ‘e-billing’.

    The survey unveiled that:

    -60 per cent of consumers would not choose a company that did not offer a paper bill.

    -12 per cent of consumers and 20 per cent of 25 – 34 year-olds, say they have switched to a new provider when a charge for paper based bills was imposed.

    -8 per cent of consumers and 16 per cent of 25 – 34 year olds, say they have switched providers because paper bills were withdrawn.

    -57 per cent of consumers overall, 66 per cent of 18 – 25 year olds, and 60 per cent of 25 -34 year olds, believe a paper bill option is still quite or very important when choosing a new supplier.

    -93 per cent of consumers say they are unwilling to pay for paper bills.

    -89 per cent of consumers want to be able to switch between paper and e-bills without difficulty and cost.

    -42 per cent prefer to receive financial services bills by post only and 37 per cent prefer to receive utility bills by post only. For financial services, post is the preferred option overall.

    -21 per cent of consumers would refuse to switch to electronic bills and statements when asked to do so.

    -69 per cent of consumers say that postal bills offer better record keeping and 65 per cent say they are easier to check.

    -48 per cent state that postal bills offer more security and 46 per cent say bills and statements printed on paper are easier to read than off a screen.

    The survey found that consumers are suspicious of environmental claims and appear confused by the environmental arguments used in the promotion of e-billing. Statements such as, “Go Green, Go Digital”, “Save Trees, Go Paperless” can do damage to corporate reputations.

    Martyn Eustace (pictured), director of Two Sides, said: “The Survey shows that whilst electronic billing and statements are now becoming a standard billing method, consumers still want hard copy by post, or a combination of post and e-mail, and there are signs of frustration, from a significant section of consumers, with the tactics used to move consumers from post to e-mail. There is also mistrust of the motivation behind the pressure to switch”

    The survey reveals that billers face a danger of losing customers if consumers are pushed unwillingly to move to e-billing or subjected to cost penalties. A majority of consumers declare they will not choose companies that do not offer paper bills and are unconvinced about misleading environmental claims.

    “E-billing can be convenient however consumers are seeing through the dubious reasons billers give for changing to e-bills, such as ‘better for the environment’, and realise that their bill provider is just seeking to reduce costs. With 38 per cent of consumers, now at their cost, printing all or some of their bills, the term ‘paper free billing’ must be challenged,” said Eustace.

    The survey comes as a new coalition of consumers in the US, called ‘Consumers for Paper Options’ is biting back against the US government’s efforts to go paperless with its public communications materials.

    According to Kathi Rowzie, Two Sides guest blogger, the move looks set to particularly affect the country’s senior population, which does not have the same level of access to computers and the online community as younger generations.

    Certainly, the majority of feedback Print21 received following the news that the Australian Tax Office had removed the Tax Pack from newsagents was from retirees unable to go online to order a copy of the publication.