ATO COVID-19 scams and JobKeeper payment updates

BY Australian Retailers Association
18 May 2020

The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) is aware of a significant increase in Australians being targeted with COVID-19 scams, fraud attempts and deceptive email and SMS schemes.

The ATO will communicate with you via SMS and email if you have applied for the JobKeeper payment, or early release of superannuation. However, if you’re unsure whether an ATO interaction is genuine, do not reply. If you receive an SMS or email claiming to be from the ATO, check with the ATO first to confirm it's genuine.

The ATO is working with other government agencies to combat COVID-themed scams and minimise harm to the community.

During this time of heightened scam activity, individuals and businesses are encouraged to:

  • run the latest software updates to ensure operating systems security is current
  • update antivirus software
  • always exercise caution when clicking on links and providing personal identifying information.
  • always avoid accessing online government services via a hyperlink in an email or SMS – only via an independent search
  • call the ATO on an independently sourced number to verify an interaction if in doubt
  • educate staff on scam awareness.

Phone scam - requesting bank account details for the JobKeeper payment

The ATO is receiving reports of scammers pretending to be from the ATO calling members of the public and asking them to provide their bank account details. They are telling them that their employer has registered them for the JobKeeper Payment, but that the ATO needs their bank account details to deposit the funds into their account.

Do not provide the information requested. Employees that are eligible for JobKeeper payments will be paid by their employer and the ATO will reimburse their employer for these payments. The ATO does not need the bank account details of individual employees.

If you are not sure whether an ATO call is legitimate, hang up and phone the ATO 1800 008 540 to check.

Additional updates and resources:

JobKeeper
If you’ve enrolled for the JobKeeper Payment it’s now time to identify yourself or your eligible employees. If you are a sole trader with no employees you still need to take this step. To find out more watch the video,  Step two – Identify and maintain.

JobKeeper resources

ATO Community

If you’re looking for more information, you can also visit ATO Community, which is available 24/7 with questions, answers and regular updates. Check it out and join the discussion at https://community.ato.gov.au/t5/COVID-19/ct-p/COVID

Small business webinars 

Currently ATO is holding a webinar on Tax support for small business. Is your small business affected by COVID-19? Join this free 60-minute webinar to find out how the Government's stimulus package can help your small business. Find out more at ato.gov.au/sbwebinars

Need help with an employment law issue?

The Workplace Advice Service is an initiative of the Fair Work Commission to help eligible small businesses navigate employment laws such as dismissals and bullying in the workplace. The service connects you to lawyers who provide up to one hour free and independent legal advice. Find out more here.

If you know or suspect another business taking part in illegal activity or behaviour of concern, you can make a tip off to the Tax Integrity Centre ato.gov.au/tipoff

Tax-time 2020: Instant asset write-off expansion

Planning to purchase a new or second‑hand asset for your business? Take advantage of the expanded instant asset write-off. From 12 March 2020 until 30 June 2020 the instant asset write-off:

  • threshold amount is $150,000 (up from $30,000)
  • eligibility has been expanded to businesses with an aggregated turnover of less than $500 million (up from $50 million).

Businesses can claim an immediate deduction (business portion only) for multiple assets, new or second‑hand, provided each asset costs less than $150,000.

Different eligibility criteria and thresholds apply to assets used or installed ready for use prior to 12 March 2020.

For more information visit ato.gov.au/instantassetwriteoff

Employee’s working from home

If your employee’s are working from home, remind them that they need to keep a record of their hours for when they claim deductions at tax time. The ATO has released a quick simple method that your staff can use to calculate home office expenses when working from home due to COVID-19.

For more information visit https://www.ato.gov.au/General/COVID-19/Support-for-individuals-and-employees/Employees-working-from-home/

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Australian Retailers Association

Founded in 1903, the Australian Retailers Association (ARA) is Australia’s largest retail association representing Australia’s $320 billion sector, which employs more than 1.3 million people. As the retail industry’s peak representative body, the ARA works to ensure retail success by informing, protecting, advocating, educating, and saving money for its 7,500 independent and national retail members throughout Australia. For more information, visit www.retail.org.au or call 1300 368 041.

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