The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) says it will ramp up the use of its powers against employers who fail to pay workers their superannuation after being on “delay” with enforcement action against businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Emma Rosenzweig, the deputy commissioner of superannuation, told a parliamentary hearing into the unlawful underpayment of superannuation that the ATO can make a direction to employers to pay workers.
Its powers allow the agency to hit employers with hefty penalties and take action that could result in jail time if they don’t pay workers their superannuation entitlements.
But she said that the ATO had held back forcefully using these powers because of the impact the COVID-19 pandemic was having on businesses.
“We’ve obviously still been working with businesses through the impacts of the pandemic,” Ms Rosenzweig told the hearing.
“We’ve talked about the fact that we have not aggressively pursued debt collection. And we’ve been trying to work to support businesses, to sustain them through the pandemic.”
“We are starting to renew our activities in debt collection and re-engage with businesses who owe us money. And as part of that, we are thinking about the full suite of tools that we have available and when it’s appropriate to use them.”
“I guess we’ve sort of had a bit of a delay before we really think it’s appropriate to start pulling them out as one of the tools in our kit.”