ATO to focus on cash-only businesses

ATO to focus on cash-only businesses


To protect honest, compliant Australian businesses, the Australian Taxation Office has placed a strong emphasis on targeting the cash and hidden economy.

The ATO is visiting businesses that deal predominantly in cash, with a focus on those that:

  • Fail to meet super or employer obligations, and that fail to register for GST or lodge activity statements.
  • Operate outside regular small business benchmarks specific to their industry.
  • Show discrepancies between what they have reported and our collected data relating to electronic payments.
  • Operate and advertise as cash only.
  • Income does not correlate with the lifestyle of the business owner, i.e. assets and spending habits exceed what is expected of someone with their reported income.
  • Are reported to the ATO by members of the community or any third party regarding potential tax evasion.
  • Are part of an industry that is known for dealing primarily in cash only.

When out visiting cash-only businesses, the ATO will be working in unison with local authorities and industry associations to asks questions and discuss:

  • Why the business operates primarily or only in cash.
  • The need to lodge tax returns and activity statements.
  • How to be compliant in relation to tax and super obligations.
  • Different claims and tax deductions businesses can make.
  • The general community preference to have EFTPOS or electronic payment options available to them.
  • Benefits of electronic payment and record keeping facilities.
  • Relaying tools and services businesses can use if they are struggling to ensure they are compliant with Australian tax laws.
  • Any other help they may need.

If the ATO comes across a business that is doing the wrong thing or failing to meet their obligations, they have a duty to take action. This may result in the business facing an audit and possible prosecution.

If you have made a mistake and make a voluntary disclosure detailing your errors, the ATO will work with you to rectify this and create a solution.

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If you believe the matters discussed above are relevant to your business, please contact Darren Smith of our office to discuss further.


Darren is a Chartered Accountant with extensive experience, including working in the big 4 and medium sized firms before becoming a partner of a city based firm in 2000.

He has gained much experience and has extensive knowledge in providing business and taxation advice, superannuation planning, negotiation of sales and acquisitions of businesses and property development. His client base covers a wide range of industry groups.

Darren works with business owners to grow their businesses and create personal wealth within and outside of their business.


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