$155m Claw Back in JobKeeper Over-Payments
- The ATO aims to recover $155 million in JobKeeper payments, that were paid out to businesses that made deliberate or reckless mistakes in determining their eligibility.
- The bill for the wage subsidy program grew to $83 billion since its introduction in March 2020.
The ATO aims to recover $155 million in JobKeeper payments, that were paid out to businesses that made deliberate or reckless mistakes in determining their eligibility.
To date, approximately $135 million in such JobKeeper payments have been clawed back by the ATO, with a further $50 million in payments deemed to be honest mistakes, that won’t be pursued for repayment.
However, new figures released by ATO second Commissioner Jeremy Hirschhorn last week, note that the bill for the wage subsidy program grew to $83 billion since its introduction in March 2020.
Mr Hirschhorn confirmed that the ATO would not pursue ‘honest mistakes’ that were made as businesses quickly moved to access the wage subsidy early-on in the program.
“You’ll recall that right at the start there was a lot of concern about honest mistakes, where people applied but they’d got the rules wrong, and we said we were not going to pursue repayment if they had passed that on to the employees,” Mr Hirschhorn said. These ‘honest mistakes’ were assessed on their individual circumstances, taking into account factors such as employers relying on a statement made by an employee in their nomination notice and employers fully passing on the JobKeeper payment to the relevant employee. These errors totaled roughly $50 million and it was deemed not appropriate for the ATO to claw back the JobKeeper.
The Businesses being pursued as part of the $155 million claw-back would have been deemed to have undertaken deliberate or reckless actions to access the wage subsidies despite not being entitled to them.
The ATO have advised that businesses who are required to repay JobKeeper to the ATO will be provided with detailed reasons and instructions on to how to make a repayment. This will include explaining their right to object.
Mr Hirschhorn also told the parliamentary committee that the ATO has levied penalties between 25% and 75% in 43 JobKeeper cases, with a further 14 under consideration.
Five matters involving potential fraud have been passed on to the Serious Financial Crime Taskforce, with another two cases being considered.
A further two entities are currently involved in an active court case for producing false or misleading statements in relation to the program.
If you have any questions or need advice and clarity specific to your business, feel free to contact Semmens & Co on 03 8320 0320 for a free consultation.