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“Just be honest mate and pay your tax,” say tradies

A survey of Auckland tradespeople shows an Inland Revenue campaign highlighting cash jobs has hit home, with four in five believing they’ll get caught if they cheat on their taxes.

The survey of nearly 420 tradies followed an advertising campaign in Auckland during April and May, with the message that tradespeople need to declare all their income, including cash, “or risk everything”.

Inland Revenue’s Group Manager Investigations and Advice, Patrick Goggin, said the survey results show that the message that doing under-the-table jobs is a tax crime is getting through.

“There was a high level of awareness of the campaign, with nearly two-thirds of tradies recalling it and more than half considering it was relevant to all tradespeople. That’s a great result for what was only a trial campaign,” Mr Goggin said.

The survey showed more tradies agreed that if they cheat on their tax, it is likely they’ll get caught, when compared to a similar survey in 2012, he said.

“This year half of tradies agreed with that statement, compared to just over a third back in 2012. That shows tradespeople do realise Inland Revenue will take action if it finds out they’re not declaring all their income.”

Mr Goggin said while the majority of tradespeople “do the right thing” by paying their taxes, there’s a minority who are cheating the system and ripping off taxpayers.

“Unfortunately our survey found that in the Auckland region, there’s anecdotal evidence that up to a quarter of building and construction involves under the table work. If that’s true, that’s a lot of tax not being paid and that would have funded vital services we all benefit from such as schools, hospitals and social services.

“I think what’s encouraging though is that tradies are talking about their tax obligations with their mates in the industry and with their customers. And most are saying it’s no longer okay to do work for cash and not declaring it.

“Some of the comments they told us were: ‘About time IRD cracked down on it’, and ‘Just be honest mate, and pay your tax’. And more than three-quarters of respondents disagreed with the statement ‘I don’t think of tax cheating as a real crime’.”

Mr Goggin said although Inland Revenue had identified the building and construction industry as being a high risk for tax evasion, all levels of tax evasion from any industry were treated very seriously.