The Tax Office gives the gold finger to process and justice | The Spectator Australia

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How would you feel if you owed the Australian Taxation Office nothing—in fact the ATO owed you money—yet on the back of its debt the ATO imposed a fine on you? Sounds incredible? Well, this is what…
How would you feel if you owed the Australian Taxation Office nothing—in fact the ATO owed you money—yet on the back of its debt the ATO imposed a fine on you? Sounds incredible? Well, this is what has happened to a small family gold-refining business on the Gold Coast.

To provide background, between around 2012 and 2015, international criminals defrauded an estimated $2.45 billion from the ATO through a GST scam trading in gold. The scam, probably the largest in Australia's history, was simple. Criminals sold gold to refiners. Refiners paid for the gold and added GST to the payment as required by law. The criminals didn't pay the ATO as required by law—and disappeared.

The ATO knew about the potential for this sort of scam from around 2003. It was repeatedly warned that it was occurring from about 2014, yet did nothing to stop it until 2017. The solution was simple. Change the law to require the refiners to pay the GST directly to the ATO.

It's easy to subscribe to the view that either the ATO was massively incompetent or worse. Yet no investigation has occurred into how the ATO stuffed up so hugely.

In response, the ATO has gone after the refiners. The criminals, of course, have disappeared.

Lynn and Jerry Reid are small business, Gold Coast refiners. They've been targeted by the ATO. The ATO's targeting has been investigated by the ATO 'auditor': the Inspector General of Taxation and Taxation Ombudsman. Its report is…
Ken Phillips, Matthew O'Donnell, Corrine Barraclough, James Macpherson, Amber Athey, Louise Cooper, Stephen L. Miller, Stephen Daisley, Dr Jade Norris, Joel Diggory
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