The Australian Taxation Office yesterday announced their compliance program for 2009/10 where they identify their various targets for the year ahead.

If you’re a tax cheat or a potential tax cheat then the compliance program is a must read. The ATO actually tip you off at what they’re looking at and you would have to be a nong not to read and comprehend its contents.

While truckies and electricians seem to have been the focus of the popular press the document is far more in-depth and comprehensive than a mere crackdown on some blue collar occupations.

It has been ATO tradition that the commissioner announces the release of the compliance program at a swish business lunch where he usually made a speech to the throng which was attended by newspaper hacks who gathered courtesy of the free lunch offered.

Much to the hungry hacks chagrin, this year it was announced by press release. Crikey understands that tax chief Michael D’Ascenzo was told by the government to make the release low key this year because of the global financial crisis (GFC) and its effect on the taxpayer community. One tax insider told me, “The last thing a struggling small business wants to hear is that the bloody tax office is out to get them”.

Crumbling tax revenues due to the GFC and the government running a budget deficit due to their various stimulus packages puts a lot of pressure on the tax administration to bring home the bacon.

D’Ascenzo has provided a small business assistance package to assist them with debt repayments such as an interest free period and generous repayment plans. He needs to ensure that his message gets to his officers at the coalface. He also needs to ensure that his zealous auditors don’t break the rules by threatening taxpayers with prosecution if they don’t pay the big tax bill or imposing larger than normal penalties to help boost the coffers.

Crikey readers should have a look here to see how much the ATO have raised during their compliance activities during 2008/09. Clearly the ATO have not been idle!

The ATO’s areas of focus this year:


Work related expense claims

Truck drivers

Sales and marketing managers

Sales representatives


Investors’ capital gains and losses.

Dodgy schemes

Wealthy individuals. Extending compliance activities to look at individuals with a net wealth between $5 and $30 million.

Small Business:

Refund fraud

Phoenix arrangements

GST Schemes

Dodgy schemes

Capital Gains tax

Employer obligations such as lodgements, payments etc

Large Business and International:

Merger and acquisition activities

Transfer Pricing

Cross border financing arrangements

Promoted tax exploitation schemes.