Beware the tax scam

Jul, 2021

Matt Byrne

Matt Byrne



As we move into a new financial year and businesses and individuals are dealing with the ATO and its systems as part of their 2021 tax return lodgements it’s important to make sure you’re dealing with the ATO and not a scammer.

In Detail

Scams are not a new thing but the reported losses from scams in Australia has continued to increase year on year up to a record $851 million in 2020. Included in that number is losses from tax related scams where the scammer purports to be from the ATO and requires payment of an overdue tax debt or a fine or is trying to access your personal information.

As we move into a new financial year, individuals and businesses will have more interactions with the ATO as they prepare and lodge their 2021 tax returns.  It would be easy to mistake a phone call, email or text from a scammer as being a genuine interaction with the ATO during this time and so it pays to be on high alert, especially when making payment for a tax liability.

If you’re a Day One Advisory client you won’t need to worry about this too much as we act as the middle man with the ATO. If you receive a call or text from the ATO just let us know and we’ll contact them directly and handle it for you.

If you personally have interactions with the ATO, here are some basic rules to follow to avoid a nasty scam:

Phone calls

If you receive a call from the ATO and you’re unsure, the best option is to hang up and give them a call back via a number listed on the ATO website.

ATO calls are always from a hidden number and so won’t show a caller ID.  If you do contact the ATO, source the number independently from the ATO website rather than via caller ID on a previous call.

The ATO will never:

  • Threaten you with arrest or send pre-recorded messages.
  • Force you to pay over the phone or request payment via vouchers or cryptocurrency.
  • Stop you from contacting your tax agent or advisor.
  • Cancel or suspend your TFN.
Email & SMS

Communications by the ATO that come via email or text will generally direct you to login to your myGov account and shouldn’t contain a link for you to follow.  If you receive an email or text from the ATO, don’t click the link but instead login to your myGov account to independently verify the email or text.

The ATO also won’t interact with you via Whatsapp and while they are on social media, these are never platforms the ATO use to interact with you personally about debts or tax obligations.

Closing comments

Scammers are getting very sophisticated at mimicking the ATO including setting up emails and websites that look remarkably similar to legitimate correspondence. Be on high alert this tax season and be sceptical when interacting with the ATO.  After all, it is your hard earned money on the line and your valuable personal information.

If in doubt, contact the ATO direct or get in touch with your tax agent to double check.


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