Bunnings Warehouse has unwittingly found itself in the centre of a massive tradie tax fraud, with Bunnings’ ABN being used in more than 40% of all ABNs quoted in the Northern Territory. According to the Black Economy Taskforce, these figures give Bunnings the dubious honour of having one of the most quoted ABNs in the entire country.

So, what does this mean?

By quoting Bunnings’ ABN on invoices or receipts, the money is unable to be traced back to the independent contractor or supplier which allows them to then dodge paying tax on the transaction, in turn making it pretty much impossible for the ATO to check to see that tax has been paid correctly. This fraudulent activity is potentially costing taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars in missed revenue.

This scam casts doubt over the current ABN system and whether it is actually working. Last year, 180,000 ABNs were issued to people on tourist visas who are not allowed to have an ABN and at least 3.5 million ABNs across the country have never lodged a tax statement or tax return. There seems to be room for improvement when it comes to governance of the issuing of ABNs to make sure they are something that is valued, not something that is automatically issued.