Christmas has been wrecked for 10,000 Australian shop owners after the Uncle Scrooge in the Australian Government, tax chief Michael D’Ascenzo, announced on Wednesday his latest data matching program where he will request and collect names and addresses of entities which operate as shop owners within major shopping centres from the following sources:

• Westfield Management Limited
• Colonial First State Property Management Pty Ltd
• Lend Lease Property Management (Aust) Pty Ltd
• Stockland Property Management Pty Ltd
• AMP Capital Investors Limited
• Centro Properties Group
• General Property Trust.

Just when shop owners were starting to hear their cash registers ringing with Christmas shopping in full swing the ATO will request other tenancy information as well as gross sales and rent figures culminating in records relating to approximately 10,000 entities to be matched. It is quite clear they are chasing cash not declared by shop owners or “funny money” as it is referred to in the ATO.

In a statement to the Federal Privacy Commissioner the ATO said:

“The primary risk to be addressed by this project is the cash economy risk of omitted income. Identify entities that may be completely outside the tax system.

“Identify entities that are reporting income inconsistent with their rent or the number of shops that they own. Identify taxpayers who may be understating their turnover on their BAS and/or income tax returns.”

In 2005/06 the Tax Office ran a pilot program on nail salons in major shopping centres. They found 230 salons in 120 shopping centres across Australia and raised GST revenue exceeding $2.2 million.

Merry Christmas!