'I'll do what it takes to fight the ATO': Bechtel worker


ONE former Curtis Island worker says he'll do whatever it takes to fight the tax office on his work-related claims.

The scaffolder, who asked not to be named, is among the 4000 or so anxiously waiting to see if their taxes would be forcibly adjusted by the Australian Taxation Office as the audit continues.

Read more: Thousands of workers slapped with fines in ATO audit

The worker said not knowing if a bill would be arriving in the mail or not was leaving him feeling annoyed.

"I'll do what I have to do to fight it," he said.

Australia Pacific LNG Commemorative Event, March 3, 2016. Photo Mike Richards / The Observer
Australia Pacific LNG Commemorative Event, March 3, 2016. Photo Mike Richards / The Observer Mike Richards GLA030316APLNG

JUST IN: ATO reveals plans to audit on 1000 more workers 

"This all comes back to some jealous clown calling the ATO and reporting Curtis Island workers.

"They can't seriously expect to throw everyone in the same basket without proper auditing."

>>FEB. 10 Tax firm makes official complaint to ATO

>> NOV. 20 Last chance for Bechtel employees to fix tax

>> OCT. 28 ATO releases details on Curtis Island Bechtel claims

>> OCT. 23 Thousands of Curtis Island workers sweat on giant tax audit

>> SEP. 11 Accountant says tax sheet for Bechtel workers has errors

LNG plants on Curtis Island, Gladstone in May 2015.
LNG plants on Curtis Island, Gladstone in May 2015. Bechtel

This worker received a return of more than $10,000 in the 2013-2014 tax year and says he has the receipts to back up his claims.

Within his circle of fellow workers in the same boat, he says he's the only one who kept the "evidence".

"A lot of people I know ran scared and adjusted their taxes," he said. 

UPDATE 4:50pm: 

THE tax office has this afternoon confirmed one Bechtel employee is pursuing court action over work-related claims which the ATO has labelled "incorrect".

The Australian Taxation Office has issued bills to 2000 Bechtel workers who failed to re-work their tax returns.

The ATO won't comment on cases or disputes, but said it's aware the application is before the Administrative Appeals Tribunal.

That's in line with a statement from Corporate Accountants' that it will use a "test case" in the upcoming mediation hearing.

If the mediation fails, the case will proceed to court.

In its most recent letter to Bechtel employees, Corporate Accountants stated the tax office has "defied tax law" by amending tax returns and issuing bills.

But it acknowledged the claim over travel allowances is contentious. 


HUNDREDS of Bechtel Curtis Island workers have been slapped with a bill from the Australian Tax Office for "incorrect" claims on work-related expenses.

In October the tax office threatened to audit thousands of workers who it said had chosen not to heed advice and voluntarily amend their returns.

Now the tax returns of 2000 workers have been forcibly adjusted.

More audits are underway.

But a major Gladstone accounting firm is pushing ahead with its fight against the tax office.

If the case makes it to court, it will be one of the most significant since the tax office adopted a new, less imposing attitude when commissioner Chris Jordan took the top job in 2013.

The "incorrect claims" were made by between 8000 and 10,000 workers who were collectively paid between $40 million and $50 million in returns - money the tax office says they weren't entitled to.

More than 1600 workers heeded the warning and amended their own taxes to avoid hefty fines.

Others are holding out in the hope they won't be made to repay the money.

Corporate Accounts Pty Ltd, which represents more than 1000 workers, has lodged an application with the

Administrative Appeals Tribunal and expects to go into mediation next month. If the issue isn't resolved in mediation the case will proceed to court.

Travel allowances are central to the dispute.

A receipt from the AAT to show Corporate Accountants Pty Ltd is proceeding with its dispute against the ATO’s stance that claims were “incorrect”.
A receipt from the AAT to show Corporate Accountants Pty Ltd is proceeding with its dispute against the ATO’s stance that claims were “incorrect”.

A spokesperson for Corporate Accountants said the firm will be arguing that local workers were entitled to claim travel allowances in the 2013-2014 tax year.

That's not based on the value of the cost to catch the ferry, but each worker's time travelling to and from the pick-up point during workdays that exceed the standard eight hour day.

In the meantime the firm is advising clients to accept a payment plan and begin paying the money back.

From The Observer's Facebook page |

Matthew Warman 40-50 mill. Pft. What about the billions mentioned in the Panama leaked papers not to mention all the other multinational company's laundering their cash offshore. No, let's just chase up blue collar workers -- we already pay 70% of tax revenue. Nice work ATO.

Tracey Jeacocke-Jarram This is for the idiots that claimed for buying own uniforms, boots, tools & travel where all of that is supplied. One guy tried to claim for his boat where he HAD to travel to & from work!!!. We are only to traveling ferries they pay for. We weren't that greedy.

Jaclyn Dunnett My partner misses out on the kids growing up to get the good money and half of it goes to the ATO. Now they want more.

Leigh Leigh And if they are successful in claiming that you should be able to claim a deduction for time spent travelling to work. Then workers in places like Sydney and Melbourne who also spend hours travelling to work will be cheering. Nope. Methinks that they have a fat chance of winning based on the floodgates argument.

Jacqui Bryson Not everyone is FIFO. We left our home and family to rent up here. We put our money into the community and will have no job at the end of it. It's not always black and white, is all I am saying.

Pete Left Well maybe they should have thought of that before they tried to cheat the system and take what wasn't rightfully theirs. And hopefully they got an education on what to claim and what not to claim on their tax.

J-Rod Crawford Maybe one day when you pay $100,000 plus in tax bud you might like some of it back. The government get away with everything, so why can't the rest of Australia

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