May 13, 2019

Tax office highlights Bechtel expense cheats

Tax office highlights Bechtel expense cheats

Five men employed by Bechtel during LNG plant construction on Curtis Island, Gladstone, have been fined more than $50,000 for making false work-related expense (WRE) claims.

The Australian Taxation Office has highlighted the prosecutions as a case study on its website, and they have been reported in today’s Financial Review.

The ATO said it had identified unusual patterns of WRE for car and travel expenses being claimed by Bechtel employees at Curtis Island in 2015.

Checks with the employer confirmed the company reimbursed all drive-in, drive-out employees for their travel expenses, and that they were not entitled to claim any costs in their tax returns, it said.

The ATO issued a fact sheet to go out with Bechtel payslips, met with registered agents of affected employees, and provided a new tailored webpage for Bechtel employees.

“We also established a dedicated email and hotline number for employees seeking further advice on how to amend their returns and avoid a potential penalty,” the case study report stated.

Five Bechtel employees have been ordered to pay a total of $54,315 in orders and fines over the past seven months for falsely claiming work-related expenses.

Convictions:

  • Ralph Mueller was convicted in the Brisbane Magistrates Court on 16 April 2019 for making a false and misleading statement. He received a $500 fine and was ordered to pay an additional $8000.
  • Arnulfo Elpa was convicted in the Townsville Magistrates Court on 8 October 2018 for recklessly making a false or misleading statement (s8N). He received a $1000 fine and was ordered to pay an additional $9509.
  • Phillip Frid was convicted in the Brisbane Magistrates Court on 12 October 2018 for recklessly making a false or misleading statement (s8N). He received a $1000 fine and was ordered to pay an additional $19,766.
  • Michael Doon was convicted in the Southport Magistrates Court on 15 October 2018 for making a false and misleading statement. He received a $700 fine and was ordered to pay an additional $7840.
  • Phillip Presley was convicted in the Latrobe Valley Magistrates Court on 16 October 2018 for recklessly making a false or misleading statement (s8N). He received a $6000 fine.

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