Social Media attracts the attention of the Australian Taxation Office

As the end of the financial year fast approaches and we sort our receipts and payments into something that can be recorded accurately for our tax purposes, we are reminded that the Australian Taxation Office is turning to improved data tracking methods as well as less conventional monitoring methods to hoan in on people with perceived wealth. If your Facebook page depicts a lifestyle and holidays etc. that is not evident in your income disclosed for taxation purposes, you could be a target for the Australian Taxation Office.

Individuals and businesses have been on high alert since the Federal Government announced last year its intention to raise $1 billion in additional revenue from its taxation audit activity.

“Don’t be under any misconception, the ATO is actively monitoring individuals through their social media pages, whether their kids are registered in private schools, their motor vehicle registrations and property search titles. With business they’re looking for any inconsistencies in your tax filing records, whether your GST filings reconcile with your income tax filings and whatever else they can find on the public record” says Murray Howlett, tax partner with Pilot Partners, Chartered Accountants.

“The ATO’s data tracking and interpretation capabilities have improved exponentially over recent years and they’re looking to make sense of the data” says Howlett.

Be aware, the Australian Taxation Office has access to your banking records including credit card transactions and even down to who has paid your children’s school fees (particularly if your child has attended a private school with higher school fees). Howlett warns “ … they (the ATO) have run a program where they contacted private schools to understand who was paying the school fees for the students that attend”.

We also know that the ATO monitors records are the various state titles offices and vehicle ownership, particularly when changes in ownership occur.

In more recent times, we are seeing the ATO employ more abstract methods to undertake their checks on taxpayers.