ATO investigates Rattler Jobkeeper claims
THE Mary Valley Rattler's use of Jobkeeper support to stay afloat through the COVID-19 pandemic has come under a cloud amid fears the company was ineligible to claim Jobkeeper.
The Australian Taxation Office is reviewing the RRC's eligibility at the request of the Queensland Audit Office as part of the Gympie Regional Council's full organisational review, which includes the Rrattler and its finances.
Council CEO Shane Gray said this "includes a request as part of an end-of-year audit requirement from the Queensland Audit Office that the Rattler Railway Company seek a private ruling from the Australian Taxation Office on the status of the Rattler Railway Company".
Tax office criteria for the payment says employers are only eligible if they meet all requirements; this includes not being in one of the ineligible categories, which includes entities "wholly owned by an Australian government agency or local governing body".
The Rattler Railway Company is fully owned by the Gympie council.
Mr Gray said the review "will inform council on the eligibility of the Rattler Railway Company in terms of Jobkeeper payments".
Rattler GM Micheal Green said the organisation had applied on its Not-for-Profit status.
"RRC evaluated the eligibility requirements of Jobkeeper and as a 'Not-for-Profit' organisation that met the turnover requirements of the scheme considered itself eligible to apply, and was successful in doing so," Mr Green said.
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"RRC is a member-based 'Not-for-Profit' organisation with six members, including Gympie Regional Council.
"As such, all members of the 'Not-for-Profit' organisation are aware of decisions made on behalf of the organisation, and have voting rights.
"Gympie Regional Council has been aware of the Jobkeeper payments since the application was made to the ATO.
"RRC operates under numerous leases, including Gympie Regional Council, Queensland Railways, and several other heritage railways and individuals."
Mr Green said changes to the scheme over the year meant the RRC "has sought to reassess its ongoing eligibility of the organisation for Jobkeeper and is progressing a ruling through the ATO".
"Jobkeeper has been a crucial element in RRC being able to maintain employment of Gympie local residents and to support the community's economic position during one of its most challenging periods."
A spokeswoman for the ATO said the scheme was built on self-assessment.
"The onus is on the applicant to ensure they meet the eligibility criteria as well as ensuring the information they provide is correct," she said.
"The ATO has a robust compliance program that ensures only those who are entitled to Jobkeeper are able to access the program."
"The ATO will work with employers to avoid and overcome genuine mistakes.
"Determinations on penalties are made on the facts and circumstances of each case."