Authorities have raided 35 properties across the country, on suspicion they are supplying and using illegal electronic sales suppression tools (ESST) or software to avoid paying tax.
The raids took place in Victoria, New South Wales, Queensland, Western Australia and Tasmania, the ATO said in a statement.
A significant amount of information has been gathered by investigators but no charges have been laid yet.
ATO Deputy Commissioner John Ford said the dodgy tools allowed retailers to keep a separate set of books and launder the money in one transaction.
“They conceal and transfer this income anonymously, sometimes offshore,” Ford said.
Ford said a point-of-sale system with ESST enabled may permanently delete transactions, re-sequence transactions, reduce sales values, misrepresent transactions, and consequently, produce fake records.
“So what might happen is that the customer orders a $60 steak and a $100 bottle of wine and the ESS tool then puts it through the point-of-sale system as a $10 bowl of chips and a $4 bottle of soft drink,” he said.
“Adding ESST to your point-of-sale system is a deliberate and underhanded act designed purely to under-report income and avoid tax obligations.”
He warned it was only a matter of time before businesses got caught due to their global intelligence network.
It has been illegal to produce, supply, process, use or promote ESSTs in Australia since October 2018.
Globally the raids involved the collection of evidence, intelligence gathering, search warrants, notices to produce, interviews, taxation assessments, and subpoenas.
The ATO is encouraging businesses using ESS tools to come forward as they may be able to receive less penalties.