If you’ve been watching the olympics (and my tired eyes will tell you I have a wakeful baby and an obsession with the olympics) then you must have seen the TV ad channel nine are playing repetitively for Big Brother.
The show has traditionally been fish bowl style; throwing a group of random (read carefully selected) people together and then seeing how it pans out. It never ceases to amaze me how the housemates so easily forget about the cameras – how is it even possible that they forget that not only Big Brother is watching them but so is the rest of Australia?
In many ways the ATO isn’t dissimilar to Big Brother. Much like the housemates, some taxpayers live in fear and some taxpayers take on more of a carefree “come and get me” attitude. I myself recommend a respectful follow the rules and don’t get in trouble gameplay but who knows; if I was actually on the show I might be the one who gets kicked out in week one – embarrassment!!
But seriously, the ATO do share similar traits with Big Brother.I constantly surprise clients by telling them what income the ATO has advised me they have earned before they even open their documentation to show me. I can tell you things such as interest income, payment summary (group certificate) earnings, dividend income, managed fund information and even whether you received a natural disaster payment from Centrelink. The ATO really is like Big Brother in many ways – they are always watching by collecting information about you when you aren’t even aware. While channel nine hides their cameras behind mirrored glass, the ATO simply send requests for information out to financial institutions such as banks to be provided to them. However, there is a heap of information that the ATO aren’t told about or are aware of too.
Channel nine have promised that each housemate has a secret (insert oooohhs and ahhhs) and we’ll probably be kept in suspense for several weeks and no doubt be asked to spend money voting which secret belongs to who before all is revealed. The ATO seem to also be assuming that taxpayers have secrets that aren’t being shared with them as more money than ever has been injected into audit funding. Specifically, the ATO have advised they will be targeting defence force personnel, IT managers and plumbers and they’ll be focusing on the cash economy particularly plasterers and coffee shops. If you’re interested to see what else the ATO plan to focus on click here.