Sales suppression devices now against the law

Taxpayers can now be penalised over $1 million if they are caught manufacturing, distributing, possessing, using or selling electronic sales suppression tools (ESSTs).

Assistant Commissioner Matthew Bambrick said the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) is determined to protect honest businesses by dealing with operators who gain an unfair advantage over their competitors by trying to avoid their tax obligations.

“These tools serve no purpose other than intentional tax evasion. They can be used to delete, change or falsify electronic point of sales (POS) records and are often referred to as ‘phantomware’ or ‘zappers’,” Bambrick said.

“We know these tools are being used by dodgy businesses, and now that we have legislation passed that specifically sets out sanctions, we can also go after the manufacturers and suppliers.

Taxpayers can now face financial penalties of up to 5,000 penalty units, which currently equates to over $1 million depending on the offence and severity of the crime.

“Businesses using legitimate POS software shouldn’t be concerned – we can tell the difference between a salesperson correcting an error when ringing up a sale and the deliberate manipulation of sales data.”

Bambrick said the ATO will be working closely with businesses that may have inadvertently purchased software with an ESST function.

“Businesses that have acquired an ESST on their software before the legislation was first announced on 9 May 2017 have a six-month transitional period until 3 April 2019 to let us know about it without any penalty being applied,” he said.

According to Bambrick, they will be sending letters to businesses that they believe may have an ESST in their POS system to inform them to take action.

“I urge all businesses to keep detailed records of every transaction so you can explain any adjustments or calculations for tax purposes,” he said.

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