12 Apr Record-keeping education in lieu of ATO financial penalties
If you run a small business and are found by the ATO to have made unintentional record-keeping mistakes, you could face having to pay an administrative penalty. However, this could soon change under a proposed new law that would give ATO the power to issue a direction to complete an approved record-keeping education course instead. Legislation to implement this measure has been introduced into Parliament but not yet passed.
This proposed change originated as a part of the Black Economy Taskforce’s final report, which found that tax-related record-keeping obligations should be made clearer for businesses, and that the ATO should have a range of administrative sanctions available at its discretion for breaches of the rules.
Under the proposed new law, the ATO may issue a tax-records education direction in appropriate situations, which will require the appropriate person within a business to take a specified, approved course of education and provide the ATO with evidence of completion. This would be applied in circumstances where the record-keeping mistakes were unintentional, due to knowledge gaps or variations in levels of digital literacy, or where the ATO reasonably believes that the entity has made a genuine attempt to comply with their obligations.
The tax-records education direction would not be available to businesses that deliberately avoid record-keeping obligations. In those cases, financial penalties will still be applied, and if there is evidence of serious non-compliance, the ATO may also consider criminal sanctions.