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JobKeeper: COSBOA calls on Senate to respect privacy of wage subsidy recipients

COSBOA is very concerned about the precedent that would be set if moves by some senators to force the ATO to publicise the names of JobKeeper recipients with annual turnovers of more than $10 million were to go ahead.

COSBOA CEO Alexi Boyd said “COSBOA strongly opposes this move as no consent was sought from businesses for this as a condition of JobKeeper participation. Further, financial matters between business owners and the ATO are highly sensitive and such information can lead to adverse market and competition consequences."

The confidentiality of financial information between the ATO and the business community is paramount and so this move by Labor and cross bench senators should be blocked.

Ms Boyd continued “We have no issues with the need for reasonable transparency where taxpayer funds are expended but if sensitive business information provided to the ATO can be made public by the Australian Parliament, for what appears to be pure political gain, then all businesses would rightly have concerns about their future dealings with the ATO”

“All employers signed up for JobKeeper fully believing their details would be kept confidential by the ATO. Changing the rules retrospectively sets a dangerous precedent about the privacy of sensitive commercial information.”

“If the Senate goes ahead with requiring this information to be divulged, businesses will become concerned about what other confidential information the ATO or any Govt body could be required to make public in the future. The last thing we want is businesses losing faith in the tax office. It’s very important for economy, society, and community that businesses are transparent with the ATO regarding their finances. If they don’t trust the ATO to keep that information strictly confidential, then there’s an incentive to be dishonest.”

Ms Boyd added “We’re aware that other jurisdictions including New Zealand have publicly listed the companies that received their equivalent wage subsidy. But there’s a big difference, and that’s the fact that New Zealand businesses had to agree to be publicly listed when they signed up for the scheme. JobKeeper recipients made no such agreement. They trusted the ATO to keep their details private.”

Ms Boyd concluded “COSBOA therefore calls on all Senators to block the proposed motion and ensure that the ATO is not permitted to disclose sensitive commercial information without prior agreement of business owners.”



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