ATO’s First Conviction – Taxpayer Found Guilty for Rorting JobKeeper
It was only a matter of time before the ATO secured its first conviction against businesses rorting the JobKeeper program.
On 24 February 2021 at the Heidelberg Magistrates Court, Raed Saleh pleaded guilty to three counts of making a false and misleading statement to the ATO in relation to accessing the JobKeeper program.
Mr Saleh falsely applied for JobKeeper payments on the basis that he was a sole trader who had suffered a downturn in his business and that his business met the various eligibility requirements to access it. Following an initial payment of Jobkeeper to Mr Saleh, the ATO conducted an audit of his eligibility and found that in reality, Mr Saleh had not been operating a business and was in fact already receiving the JobKeeper payments as a nominated employee.
Mr Saleh was fined $3,000 and ordered to pay reparations of $3,000 and costs of $282 to the ATO.
The ATO has announced that it will seek to recover close to $155 million in JobKeeper payments claimed by business that have made deliberate or reckless eligibility errors. Where there has been an honest mistake in claiming JobKeeper, the ATO has advised that it will not pursue those businesses.
With the JobKeeper program ending on 28 March 2021, now is a good time for businesses to review and check to make sure that they are and have been compliant with the accessing the JobKeeper program.
Rockwell Bates has experience in assisting and reviewing JobKeeper incentives, including the eligibility requirements and the application process.
For more information on access or reviewing the JobKeeper incentives or, advice on it or other COVID related incentives, please contact our Tax and Advisory Team of lawyers.