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Use of Bunnings’ ABN Shows Need for Better, Stronger System

Hardware giant Bunnings now has one of the most quoted Australian Business Numbers (ABNs) in the country, but not for an enviable reason. Tradies have reportedly been fraudulently using ABNs that don’t belong to them, including that of Bunnings, prompting calls for an overhaul of the ABN system.

Bunnings’ ABN makes up 40% of all ABNs quoted in the Northern Territory, according to Michael Andrew, chair of the “black economy taskforce.”

To be clear, there is no allegation that Bunnings has done anything illegal. Tradespeople have been adding the retailer’s ABN to invoices issued to customers, but since most small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) do not have the time to check whether ABNs match the business sending the bill, such actions remain overlooked.

Effects on all businesses

The ATO is already looking into these concerns regarding the ABN system, the biggest of which is that fraudulent use of ABNs also affects the majority of SMEs who are mindful of their tax obligations.

“There needs to be a review done of this — the ATO is acutely aware of this and has been doing a not insignificant amount of work,” says Australian Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman Kate Carnell.

Businesses that don’t pay what they’re supposed to, gain an advantage over their competitors. Tax avoidance behaviour such as this are one of the black economy taskforce’s major targets.

Possible solutions

“I think there needs to be a bit of pressure on this, but the best thing to do would be to bring together the ABN, Australian Company Number, tax file number and the possible director’s number together,” Carnell says.

A complete overhaul of the ABN system has been suggested by numerous parties to make it stronger and easier to track. However, enabling real-time tracking might result in a slower and more complex system.

Another suggestion is the creation of a mandatory ‘Director Identification Number’ for individuals who want to be directors of companies, though there’s yet to be a model for the registration process.

Verified ABNs with Connect

At Certica®, we’re proud to say that our Connect solution ensures that ABNs cannot be fraudulently quoted, nor GST fraudulently claimed. We deliver Certainty to businesses by helping them stay compliant with all current, applicable regulations, so they no longer need to worry about these concerns.

Need advice from our industrial relations experts? Feel free to call us at 1300 301 401.

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