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ATO targeting small business, ‘This is a harrowing, horrible experience’

Allegations made against the Australia Taxation Office (ATO) suggest it deliberately targeted small businesses to meet revenue targets.

The federal government is launching an investigation into the ATO amid allegations it picked-on those who were less likely to have the resources to fight incorrect tax statements.

Two ATO whistleblowers report a toxic workplace culture which knowingly targeted vulnerable individuals and small businesses to meet financial goals.

The tax office denies there’s a systemic issue within the agency.

Inspector-General of Taxation Ali Noroozi tells Ross Greenwood “this happens all the time”.

“We have not seen any evidence of small business being singled out.

“However, an organisation that size is likely to make mistakes.

“Those mistakes can occur both ways. Sometimes in favour of the taxpayer, sometimes against the taxpayer.”

Self Employed Australia Executive Director Ken Phillips says the ATO targeted small businesses and individuals who they saw as “low-hanging fruit”.

“The tax office knows these people are vulnerable and can’t defend themselves.

“They can’t afford to get the money together to pay for lawyers or know where to go.”

He tells Ross it’s “a harrowing, horrible experience” for those involved.

“In our experience, these issues go way beyond issues and go way beyond errors to the vindictive targeting of people.”

Listen to both interview below