ATO probe on work visa holders and sponsors

by Miklos Bolza07 Aug 2015
Starting September, the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) will begin collecting important details of visa holders and sponsors in a move against tax fraud and evasion.
Information on an estimated 1,000,000 individuals will be collected from the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP). This data-matching program puts pressure on employers sponsoring subclass 457 visa holders to ensure all records are in order.
The ATO will double check each employer’s Australian Business Number (ABN) as well as the ABN, name, address, phone number, payment details and amounts already paid for each sponsored employee. Information submitted for tax purposes will be compared with that submitted for visa purposes. Firms are advised to ensure all details supplied in the application forms are accurate, that they are paying the guaranteed earnings – base salary plus allowances – specified in each 457 visa approval, and that superannuation payments are correct (if applicable).
In particular, the ATO is looking for employers who fail to meet the following obligations with regards to their foreign workers:
  • Accurately completing their business activity statements
  • Registering, lodging, reporting and paying PAYG withholding, fringe benefits tax and superannuation guarantees in the proper manner
  • Correctly managing all other taxation matters
If any information is found to be incorrect, employers could draw the attention of the ATO. If an inconsistency is found, the ATO will give employers 28 days to verify the accuracy of the employee’s details before administrative action is taken.
Collection of data will occur quarterly in all forthcoming financial years so sponsors will have to remain on top of this matter on a continual basis. It is recommended that employers notify their foreign staff about this news and ensure that all details are kept accurate and up-to-date at all times.
The purpose of this program as stated in the Australian Government Gazette, Notice of Data Matching Program - Immigration Visa Holders, is to “[improve] intelligence on the overall level of compliance with taxation obligations by visa holders [and] sponsors” and to “[ensure] compliance with registration, lodgment, correct reporting and payment of taxation and superannuation”.
It is also hoped this new information will help identify new fraud methodologies, improve better administrative strategies and enhance the integrity of the Australian Business Register.
Related stories:
Changes to 457 visa program announced
ATO to investigate temporary visas
No leeway for 457 Visa breaches


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