Targeted Tax Office audits of the computer industry have raised an extra $20 million in taxation revenue over the last two years, according to a report from the Cash Economy Task Force.
The project has allowed the Tax Office to refuse many claims for refunds and seen a large number of fines imposed by the courts, the task force says. Meanwhile, legislation has now been passed aimed at catching the tax cheats.
The Tax Office report, "Improving Tax Compliance in the Cash Economy", says an examination of levels of sales tax collection from the industry, and an independent study of turnover and revenue in the computer industry, had shown wholesale tax fraud involving PCs and related goods was significant. Budget estimates suggested legislative change could allow the ATO to recoup $55 million in the first financial year and $80 million in each of the following three years.
But under new legislation, just passed, to radically alter administration of the sales tax system for computer goods, only accredited persons will be able to import and purchase personal computer goods free of sales tax.
Where buyers purchase goods free of tax by quoting a Sales Tax Registration Number, the seller will have to get the ATO to authorise the transaction.
The Tax Office will phase in the new system over the next few months and has begun a public education program to inform people about the new arrangements.