GOLD Coast restaurant operators have been put on notice by the Australian Taxation Office that they could get a knock on the door from its agents as part of a national program that has already targeted Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide.
The ATO says it will be visiting about 250 restaurants, cafés and take-away shops, as well as hair salons and nail bars on the Gold Coast.
While assistant commissioner Matthew Bambrick credits the program with protecting 'honest businesses from unfair competition', its field agents are effectively making a ground assault on the hidden cash economy.
"Honest businesses can face unfair tax competition when competitors don't lodge, don't report all of their income, pay cash wages without properly accounting for them or don't contribute super for their staff," says Bmbrick.
"In all, we'll be visiting around 250 businesses in the Gold Coast to talk about a range of topics, including business registration, record-keeping, superannuation and lodgement.
"So far we have met with over 650 businesses in local community activities in Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide.
"The feedback we've gotten about the visits has been positive and in many cases we've been able to help businesses get back on track in meeting their tax and super obligations."
Bambrick concedes the ATO has encountered issues among those businesses already visited.
"Where taxpayers are unwilling to work with us or continue to cause us concern, we will undertake further investigation," he says.
"In Sydney and Melbourne, for example, we have now moved to auditing businesses that didn't want to work with us."
The ATO relies on its own data-matching systems as well as public complaints to investigate suspicious activity.
The latest campaign is part of an annual strategy by the ATO to connect directly with business owners through random investigations.
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