ATO continues to lean on private sector for tax evasion data

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ATO continues to lean on private sector for tax evasion data

Number crunching scheme sucks up transactions.

The Australian Taxation Office has confirmed it will continue to scrape data from credit card operators, share traders and online sellers to feed into its vast data crunching scheme aimed at combating tax fraud.

The ATO picks up data sets generated by everyone from Uber to eBay and banks to real estate agents in order to make sure individuals and businesses aren’t fibbing to the tax collector about their taxable income.

This week it revealed that the scope of one element of the scheme, its share trading analysis, will broaden to include matters concerning an estimated 3 million individuals. Back in 2014, it anticipated its stock exchange dataset would involve just 1.2 million individuals.

The tax office collects the details of share transactions dating all the way back to 1985 from outfits like the ASX, Computershare, Boardroom and Advanced Share Registry Services.

The database records the identities of traders and brokers, and the volumes of the transactions. The 2016-17 and 2017-18 sweeps are anticipated to pick up roughly 61 million trades.

“The objective of this data matching program is to ensure that taxpayers are correctly meeting their taxation obligations in relation to share transactions. These obligations include registration, lodgment, reporting and payment responsibilities,” the ATO said.

It has also revealed it will keep up its practice of acquiring data from eBay Australia and eBay NZ on all online sellers who turned over more than $12,000 on the auction platform in a year, until at least 2018.

This is expected to return in the vicinity of 20,000 to 30,000 transactions, and will help the ATO ensure eBay traders are reporting their full sales income.

The ATO also routinely asks the largest credit card operators for data on their merchants to make sure businesses are being honest about the volume of electronic sales.

Merchant-level transaction data will be shared with the ATO by American Express, ANZ, Westpac, CBA, NAB and St George, among others, relating to 950,000 different businesses.

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