This year, delivering COVID-19 support and ensuring the integrity of these payments and loans has been a priority. As outlined later on in this report, we've been vigilant in checking for potential errors or wrongdoing with these initiatives.
We've continued to use our systems to check for errors across tax and other transactions and pick up errors at the earliest opportunity. This reduces the need to collect debt or do audits later. In the year to 30 June 2022, we stopped $166 million in ineligible refund claims from being paid (note this figure is unaudited).
We have not run as many interventions that help people who are getting it wrong as we usually do, as we did not want to put any more pressure on customers in what has been a difficult environment. For example, we paused some compliance activity and debt management and collection work.
When needed, we've continued to investigate potential wrongdoing and take enforcement action. This year, our investigations picked up $1.12 billion in discrepancies.
We completed 38 prosecutions for tax evasion, knowledge and Crimes Act 1961 offences, compared to 50 cases in 2020-21. The decrease reflects our emphasis this year on helping customers stay on track with their obligations and delivering support for those affected by the pandemic. As this work tailed off towards the end of the year, we redirected our effort back to compliance activities - 93 prosecutions were before the courts at 30 June 2022.
- $166 million in wrong or potentially fraudulent refunds were stopped this year.
- Across our investigations we identified tax position differences of $1.12 billion.
- Our audit return on investment was $9.88 in discrepencies for every dollar we spent, $2.71 higher than last year.
Read more about our investigations work.
Tracey Lloyd is our Service Leader, Compliance Strategy and Innovation. She and her team help drive our compliance strategy using innovation and expert knowledge and insights from our START technology system.
"START (our new system) has inbuilt analytical capabilities that make it easy to identify errors and issues across all our customers" Tracey says. "It does upfront checks to ensure people get only the payments they are entitled to, and rules in the system help us to better target our compliance activity. We also have a data and intelligence platform that lets us combine information quickly, including external information such as property data, and compare customers and industries."
"Our online service, myIR, is a great tool that lets customers contact us securely, and vice versa. Thanks to our new technology, we can tell if customers are trying to get a bigger refund or payment than they’re entitled to, or trying to reduce their tax. We can stop this behaviour as soon as it happens, as we review their activity and encourage people to get back on the right track."
Tracey says that one of the best things about our new capabilities is we can help our customers while they’re in their online account. "If a customer calls us with a question about myIR, we can join their session and help them with what they’re trying to do."
"Our customers are still learning about myIR, and we’re still learning what works for them. If customers don’t pay the tax they owe by 7 February, we automatically deduct payments through their employer, beginning in April. But before we do that, we send customers a message in myIR to let them know it’s going to happen and give them a chance to pay first."
"Last year, we realised many people hadn’t read the messages and were surprised by the deductions. This year, we used our new technology to look at customers who hadn’t paid their tax and hadn’t been into myIR for a while. We sent them text reminders instead of myIR messages. We’re trying to make sure that customers don’t get a surprise by receiving less in their pay because they hadn’t paid on time."