The Australian Taxation Office has warned employers that it will be keeping a close eye on rorts as the first of the $130 billion JobKeeper payments are rolled out across the nation.
Amid claims by the ABC that complexity in the system had meant just over half of the 900,000 employers who expressed interest had ultimately signed up, businesses have been told they have until May 31 to register.
The gap between when employers must start paying staff and then being reimbursed by the tax office appears to have been the main stumbling block.
Businesses had to pay staff $1500 by this April 30, but the subsidy is not paid until early May.
The federal government has already paid out more than $4.5 billion to businesses hit by coronavirus shutdowns.
The ATO says it has a dedicated team working on rort tip-offs and compliance officers have a range of ways of checking that all conditions are being met and employees are getting what they are entitled.
There are tip-off lines for employees who are concerned they have been dealt with unfairly, but the ATO told The New Daily it had yet to compile figures on the number of complaints.
“We know that the overwhelming majority of Australian employers are honest and want to see this assistance reach those who need it most,” an ATO spokesperson said on Wednesday.
“The ATO will work with employers to avoid and overcome genuine mistakes.
“There may be a very small number of people who seek to fraudulently access money they’re not entitled to. These people will be caught and will be subject to significant penalties.
The ATO’s robust and efficient compliance measures will quickly identify those who try to rort the system.”
The ATO has established a confidential tip-off hotline on 1800 060 062 to report JobKeeper fraud or behaviour of concern.
People can also report illegal behaviour by completing a tip-off form online at ato.gov.au/tipoffform. The form is also available in the ‘contact us’ section of the ATO app.
“There is a dedicated team at the ATO examining all tip-offs, including claims relating to JobKeeper. We take all information referred to us seriously,” the ATO spokesperson said.
“When we receive information through a tip-off, we will cross check the information and assess whether further action is required which may include penalties.
“We are working closely with the Fair Work Ombudsman and will refer tip-offs to them, as permitted under the law.”