The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) has sprung surprise visits on business and residential sites across Sydney in an effort to tackle widespread phoenix activity.
The last two days saw the ATO, the National Anti-Gangs Squad, and the NSW Police Gangs Squad Strike Force Raptor and Middle Eastern Organised Crime Squad, conducting access stopovers without notice; an operation Deputy Commissioner Michael Cranston said is part of an ongoing investigation into fraudulent phoenix activity.
“Today’s operation gave us the opportunity to copy and catalogue records of interest at each of the premises,” Mr Cranston said.
“This information will be invaluable in deciding whether to pursue further compliance action with the individual companies, as well as providing more intelligence about potential phoenix operators, phoenix facilitators and the methods they use to try to undermine the tax and superannuation systems.”
Cranston said that while they understood the disruption that the surprise visits can cause, “sometimes the element of surprise is needed” to catch out companies cheating the system before they get a chance to destroy records.
Phoenix activity is costing the Australian economy up to $3.2 billion a year, with honest business losing around $2 million due to unpaid debts and the non-supply of purchased goods and services.
“Phoenix operators create an unfair market advantage for themselves by deliberately liquidating companies to avoid paying creditors and employees and then setting up new entities to carry on the same business. This allows them to undercut their competitors,” Mr Cranston said.
The ATO is calling for those with knowledge or concerns relating to phoenix activity to head to ato.gov.au/reportaconcern or to call 1800 060 062.