–. Monday. September. 05. 2011. ( 9:03pm )
On my blog last week we discussed whether or not you would be happy to pay more tax in order to even up the wealth in society. This week a slightly different tax question: would you dob in a cheat?
It’s a reader question, actually, which I received after last week’s blog, and reads:
Forget about paying more tax - what I am sick of is all the people in our society who pay no tax at all, despite earning an income. I don’t mean people who are on government benefits or stay at home parents or retirees, but all the other people (and I’m sure there are a lot of them) who earn cash income and don’t declare it.
My neighbour is an example. She cleans houses. Not through an agency or anything, just people who she knows. I think she does just one a day, so a few hours out of her day. It all seems to be cash in hand and I seriously doubt that she pays tax on any of it. It annoys the heck out of me because in, say, fours hours work she probably earns the same cash-in-hand equivalent to what I earn working in an office all day. It probably wouldn’t make me so angry if she was a nice person, maybe.
I’ve seriously thought about dobbing her in but a/ I’m not sure how and b/ I’d be afraid she would find out. It seriously sucks though. If all these cheats paid their fair share the rest
of us wouldn’t have to pay so much.
Now tax fraud is a serious issue, and according to the tax office (ATO) they’ve stopped over 70,000 possibly fraudulent refund cheques worth over $220 million since 1 July. And they’ve also clawed back around $1.1 billion in tax liabilities through project Wickenby. As Tax Commissioner Michael D’Ascenzo said the other day: “Tax funds the lifestyle we enjoy in Australia, including vital community and government services. Those who do the wrong thing burden the vast majority of the community who do the right thing and fulfil their civic and legal responsibilities.”
He’s right, of course, but – could you actually dob someone in for doing the wrong thing? We’re not a nation of dobbers (although we’re increasingly likely to report Centrelink fraud – and it’s amazing how many people try to rip off Centrelink!). Nevertheless most businesses – everything from Medicare to banks to local councils – have a process whereby you can dob someone in for doing something. And Sam, the ATO does as well (you can view their process here .) And of course there’s the fact that cheating costs billions of dollars in lost revenue – revenue that has to be made up by other taxpayers.
Chances are they could well get caught anyway. In fact the ATO has a specific focus on the “cash economy” at the moment and they’re using data matching to compare the difference between reported income and what seems to be hitting the bank accounts. But they do also really want you, the public, to dob! The question is - would you?