Small business in the spotlight as ATO targets bank information

4 min read

The ATO has flagged a major compliance operation to target small businesses which are failing to comply with their tax obligations. Up to 90,000 small businesses are expected to be caught in the ATO’s net as a result of the operation, which will be undertaken between now and the end of 2015.
Details will be requested from eleven Australian financial institutions for all credit and debit card payments received by small businesses for the 2014-15 financial year.

The ATO will match the credit and debit card payment data provided by the eleven financial institutions against ATO records to identify businesses that may not be meeting their tax obligations.

The ATO states that the objectives of the credit and debit data matching program are to:

  • promote voluntary compliance with taxation obligations and increase community awareness of the ways the ATO uses data matching to address non-compliance
  • identify liquidated or de-registered businesses that are continuing to trade
  • assist in identifying ‘cash only’ businesses, by exception
  • assist the ATO in building intelligence about businesses 
  • ensure compliance with registration, lodgement, correct reporting and payment of taxation obligations.

The ATO is seeking to obtain external data to cross-reference with its own internal data to identify relevant cases for further action, including possible review or audit.
It is estimated that the total number of merchant account records obtained will be around 900,000. The number of individuals linked to those accounts is expected to be approximately 90,000.

Data will be obtained from:

  • American Express Australia Limited
  • Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Limited
  • Bank of Queensland Limited
  • Bendigo and Adelaide Bank Limited
  • BWA Merchant Services Pty Ltd
  • Commonwealth Bank of Australia
  • Diners Club Australia
  • National Australia Bank Limited
  • St George Bank
  • Tyro Payments Limited
  • Westpac Banking Corporation

If you think your business needs help in getting its financial house in order, contact our Tax and Business Services team on 13 40 42 or email

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