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04 Sep 09 On contractors and employees

MEMBER 17 writes:

"Once more the ATO is showing double standards in its dealings with contractors (or should I say employees). If you had an ABN & now wish to reinstate the same ABN, or for those who need a first time ABN, the ATO are only issuing the ABN to those who meet certain criteria. The ATO would be much better served if they actually sent ATO staff to people's business and checked to see which workers are employees & which are contractors.

Here's a scenario. A labourer is offered work on the condition that he has an ABN. He works Mondays to Fridays. 8.00am - 4.00pm. He also does overtime & sometimes works weekends. He is contracted (employed) by a person or company. He gets $ 300 (or whatever it is on the dole). Or he can get $1,200 a week if he has an ABN. Gee what a hard choice. The only problem is that if he answers the ABN questionnaire truthfully he is told he is not eligible for an ABN.

If a question is incorrectly (oops) answered he now has an ABN and can earn $1,200 a week. ATO says shame on you, you are not entitled to ABN and we will cancel same. They do not go to the payer & say this is an employee, we will fine you, you are not doing the right thing. They do not tell the employers their obligations & what the penalties are for not doing the right thing. But they will make the contractor (employee) pay the price by losing their job. When is the ATO going to go out to the employers? I know the answer to that. NEVER.!!!

Instead of nipping something at the source they would much rather just nip the bud to prevent a bloom. I am fed up with telling people that they are employees in the real sense. They should be getting super. They should be getting sick leave. They should be getting holiday pay & leave loading. The ATO says to them get STUFFED. We will not go out there and audit businesses and check their employee/contractor status. That is not our role. Bull. Of course it is. I say to my clients you have rights. They say yes. But $1,200 a week is better than being unemployed and it is better than $750 a week as an employee.

I had one client who rang the ATO with a question & she was given a dressing down. She was frantic and nearly in tears as she had received the dressing down from an ATO officer who told her she shouldn’t have an ABN, she should be on the books as an employee and she could get into serious trouble for working as a contractor not as an employee. She rang me as she was afraid she could go to jail or pay a huge fine for working under an ABN. This ATO officer had no intention of following anything up with employer to let the employer know that they were doing wrong. No of course not. That would only have been the right thing to do. Or maybe it would just have created work for that staff member. My client has since left that position and has gone to work for someone who has not asked for an ABN."

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