Australians owe the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) around $ 53 billion, according to its latest 2019-20 financial report. This is an increase of almost $ 10 billion from the previous year.
Small businesses are the worst offenders, owing $ 21.4 billion to the ATO in this fiscal year. Australians owe nearly $ 4 billion, while private and wealthy groups owe $ 7 billion.
“Small businesses continue to represent the majority of collectables and are central to our payment and debt strategies,” said the ATO.
“We recognize that small businesses can experience cash flow issues for a variety of reasons at any time, and that they have been particularly affected over the past year by the severity of natural disasters and the Covid-19 pandemic. “
Small businesses have been hit massively by the coronavirus pandemic, after restrictions forced them to close.
According to August data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics, more than a third of Australian businesses expect to have difficulty or very difficult to meet their financial commitments in the next three months.
The data revealed that 41% of businesses said their revenues decreased during the month of August and 22% saw their operating expenses increased. In addition, 28% expected a drop in income next month.
But small businesses were offered a lifeline in Budget 2020, with the government giving them significant tax breaks through the instant extension of asset write-offs.
It is likely that the ATO will come under scrutiny to collect debts owed when it presents the Senate estimates on Tuesday morning.
The salary of the tax commissioner unveiled
The report also revealed the salaries of senior ATO executives, with Tax Commissioner Chris Jordan earning $ 929,027 for the year.
And it pays to be a senior executive: nine earned over $ 100,000, eight earned over $ 200,000, and four of them earned over $ 400,000.
This puts Commissioner ATO in line with some of the highest paid public sector workers.
Currently, NBN Co chief Stephen Rue has the biggest taxpayer-funded salary at $ 3 million including bonuses.
Australia Post chief Christine Holgate, who was recently criticized for executive awards, is second highest paid at $ 1.6 million, while Reserve Bank Governor Philip Lowe is third with $ 1.06 million.
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