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Australian employment taxes: A year in review

As well as grappling with a weakening economy and an unsettled global trading environment, one consistent theme that stands out in Australia is an increased focus on employment tax compliance, with a raft of law changes, audit activity and landmark cases.

Building on the 2018 Black Economy Package, the Australian Tax Office (ATO) has invested in strategies to combat non-compliance for employment taxes and is armed with more data than ever - following the unilateral roll out of Single Touch Payroll. In addition, the sharing of information with the Department of Home Affairs, Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC), the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) and Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC) is making significant changes to the visibility of expatriate movements and broader employment tax compliance.

The fallout has led to leading high profile non-compliance cases. In 2019 alone, we've seen a major media outlet, a major airline, many retailers and restaurants, a Big 4 bank and a law firm exposed for under-paying their staff or failure to meet employee Superannuation contributions.

The news is not all bad though. Whilst there is a regulatory environment focusing on employment taxes, initiatives such as Single Touch Payroll and the Superannuation amnesty has presented an opportunity to ease administrative burden and take corrective action.

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For further insight into the changes impacting expatriates and the steps you should be taking to reduce the associated risks and take advantage of any tax effective opportunities please contact George Bendall or Thomas Isbell, Grant Thornton Austrlia.