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The Australian Government has enacted a number of stimulus measures to help business and the economy through a global pandemic. This includes JobKeeper, early release of superannuation and boosts to cash flow. Most people and businesses have been honest with their usage of benefits made available to them. However, a number of cases of fraud have also emerged.

The ATO has announced that it will be vigilant regarding the matter. In fact, the ATO has uncovered a number of schemes designed to cheat the system. Such tactics include the withdrawal of money from superannuation and re-contributing in order to get a tax deduction. Single Touch Payment, tax returns and superannuation fund information are used to track and catch those that do cheat the system.

At the same time, while the ATO intends to show zero tolerance for fraud, it has been working to ensure that the system can work for those who need it most. They are also hoping that businesses can come forward to admit if they have done wrong in this matter. Businesses are also encouraged to check whether they are eligible for any of the above programs before applying.

The ATO has outlined its compliance efforts for JobKeeper, which includes ensuring that entities meet eligibility requirements, claim for eligible employees and make correct claims, and not manipulate turnover. With regards to superannuation, they are looking for changes to salary, wage and employment information, arranging business affairs for eligibility, and making false statements or fraudulent claims. They are also looking out for businesses who artificially restructure themselves and manipulate figures.

Serious penalties will apply for the above offences, but the majority of businesses applying are likely to be honest with regards to their reporting of affairs.

It goes without saying that the last three months have been the most challenging in recent times. Business owners and their associates need to take care when assessing their next move, be it to fight on or keep it safe and exit ahead of future pain.