Can you imagine if the tax office went into your bank account and retrieved money it says you owe, without your permission?
Well, it can do that and it does.
It’s a practice that distressed ATO employee Richard Boyle so much that he tried to help some taxpayers get around it. He also became a whistleblower and is now facing charges that could land him in jail for up to 46 years.
Boyle was charged with 24 offences, ranging from having taxpayers' personal data in his home, as opposed to at the ATO, and recording conversations within the tax office. The case, which has been going on for 6 years, is likely to be a test case for whistleblowers. As Boyle and his wife await judgement from the Court of Appeal, it is likely the case will be taken to the High Court of Australia.
Whistleblowers are crucial in upholding the integrity of democracy. Reporting on misconduct and illegal activity can be a very dangerous activity in Australia, with laws and regulations still requiring substantial amendments in order to adequately protect those who aim to protect others.
ABC investigative journalist Adele Ferguson unpacks the situation former ATO employee Richard Boyle now finds himself in via Podcast News Daily.