ATO uses Facebook to Catch Tax Cheats

During 2016, the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) collected more than $10 billion dollars in a large scale crackdown on tax cheats.

However traditional methods of uncovering tax fraud didn’t play a part in catching these cheats, instead it was their seemingly innocent social media posts. We all know that Facebook has become a platform for showing off our lives to friends, family and colleagues, but now it is fast become the ATO’s fastest way to crack down on and pinpoint tax cheats.

Tax cheats used to be difficult for the ATO to find, however daily social media posts of lifestyles that contradict a reported income are making it easy for data analysts to find those causing a multi-billion-dollar gap in unpaid taxes.

How, you might ask?

Well, it’s all well and good to be posting on Facebook about your trip to Greece in January, Italy in May, and Canada in November, mixed in with proud brag shots of your kids away at their private schools. But if this extravagant lifestyle fails to align with the $50,000 per annum income you reported to the ATO – someone is going to do the maths.

The ATO now employ data technicians to draw down masses of taxation and personal information to find the anomalies rorting the system of thousands of dollars each year. This simply is a reality of the world that we now live in, where personal information we share is readily accessible by almost anyone, globally.

In addition to the fact that the ATO uses Facebook and social media posts, they are also  employing other better and smarter ways to catch tax cheats, such as accessing private school records and immigration data, to compare lifestyles and reported income in order to catch individuals cheating the system.

As accountants, of course our first message here for readers is; if you think you are, or may be doing something wrong, stop, immediately.

Our second message is that as your accountants, we are here to keep you compliant, however our ability to do so is only as good as the information you provide us with.

Let us help you minimise your tax burden SAFELY and LEGALLY.

If you are unsure about your income tax obligations, don’t hesitate to contact the team at Catalyst Accountants for information and assistance.