The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) is headed to the central west of NSW, following a number of tip-offs flagging concerns about businesses engaging in black economy activities.

In a statement to the media, the ATO confirmed it will visit approximately 300 SMEs in Bathurst over the next two months. The move comes after the ATO received a number of tip-offs from residents in relation to black economy activities, such as paying employees “cash in hand” or not reporting all of their sales.

“Our intelligence also suggests that some businesses are not declaring all of their income to the ATO, and avoiding their employer obligations by not paying staff entitlements like super and tax contribution,” assistant commissioner Peter Holt said.

Mr Holt said the work set to be completed by the ATO officers will protect honest businesses from unfair competition.

“These dishonest businesses in Bathurst are unfairly overtaking their honest competitors when it comes to their tax, so we’re going to take a look under a few bonnets to ensure everything is in order. By detecting and addressing this behaviour, we’re helping to ensure honest small businesses can get a fair run around the track,” he explained.

“The black economy impacts everyone in the community. By working directly with small businesses, we will be able to work through any issues and help them get back on track and ensure a level playing field for all businesses.”

The visit to Bathurst follows recent data from the Black Economy Taskforce showing that the black economy is costing the community around $50 billion, which, as Mr Holt noted, is “approximately 3 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP)”.

“This is money that the community is missing out on for vital public services like healthcare, roads, schools and welfare,” he said.

Emma Ryan

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