ATO widens search for hidden income

The Australian Taxation Office's data-matching capabilities now enable it to explore an unprecedented number of sources. Once only capable of looking at interest payments on bank accounts, the ATO data-matching system can now process and cross-check data from loan documentation, property sales, offshore bank transfers, government grant recipient lists and real estate agents' records of overseas landlords.

Other targets for upcoming ATO checks will be welfare payments, fringe benefit and eligible termination payment declarations and health insurance premiums. Tax file number applications will be checked against other government databases to detect instances of identity fraud. Businesses that haven't paid GST will be tracked from trade groups and licensing authorities. About 10,000 microbusinesses will be checked for registration this year.

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