The ATO is reminding Australians to be on the lookout for tax related scams during tax time.
Assistant Commissioner Graham Whyte said scammers are particularly active during tax time because of the large number of people lodging their tax returns.
In 2015, almost 87000 phone and email scams were reported to the ATO, an increase of over 90% from 2014.
From January to May this year, the ATO has received over 40,500 phone scam reports, of these, 226 Australians handed over $1.2 million to fraudsters and over 1,900 gave out some form of personal information, including tax file numbers.
Mr Whyte said that, whilst most people were able to identify scams, it is important to remain alert during tax time.
For example, although the ATO makes thousands of outbound calls to taxpayers a week, there are some key differences between a legitimate call from the ATO and a call from a potential scammer:
“We would never cold call you about a debt; we would never threaten jail or arrest and our staff certainly wouldn’t behave in an aggressive manner. If you’re not sure, hang up and call us back on 1800 008 540”
They have also been receiving reports of a variation of this aggressive tax debt scam, where callers impersonating ATO officers demand payment via iTunes gift cards and pre-paid Visa gift cards purchased from supermarkets and department stores; the ATO would never request the payment of a tax debt via gift or pre-paid cards, nor would they ask for a direct credit to be paid to a personal bank account.
The ATO would also never request personal details, such as banking information (if such personal details were required, the taxpayer would be redirected to ATO Online Services)
Ref: ATO media centre, 14 July 2016
NTAA. "Tax Time Is a Prime Time for Scammers." Tax Advisers VoiceAug. 2016: 4. Print.