Tax Office to investigate boat owners

By: Graham Gardiner


The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) will investigate up to 160,000 individuals and entities that have registered a boat in Australia. Deloitte

The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) will investigate up to 160,000 individuals and entities that have registered a boat in Australia.

Deloitte Tax Partner David Pring says the ATO is embarking on a data matching exercise of all individuals and organisations that have registered boats. The data will be matched with Tax Office records to attempt to highlight areas of non-compliance with tax obligations.

A similar project focusing on the marine sector was announced in 2006 but its findings were never made public. Pring says this indicates that there might well be a lucrative review for the ATO.

"It is certainly interesting timing given the announcement as it coincides with soaring fuel prices and is at a time when boat sales are suffering in the current economic times," he says.

"It is also curious that the announcement comes just before the Sydney Boat show, the biggest boat show in Australia."

Boat owners will not know that they are under investigation as the program will be run as a data matching exercise. The Tax Office will be contacting boat owners only if they find an issue that needs to be clarified or actioned.

"The ATO will be examining the taxation records of registered boat owners to ensure that there are no outstanding lodgements or payment obligations. The examination is likely to be across all tax areas including income, tax, superannuation, GST, FBT and not just boat-related issues," he says.

"The Tax Office will also be checking to determine if the stated income levels listed in tax returns is sufficient to support the type of boat registered. Taxpayers should take the opportunity to ensure their tax affairs are in order to avoid any issues with the Tax Office."

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