THE head of the Bathurst Business Chamber has hit out at a "heavy handed" crackdown on the local black economy by the Australian Taxation Office.
The ATO issued a media release earlier this week saying officers would be coming to Bathurst to investigate up to 300 local businesses following tip-offs that some were avoiding their full tax responsibilities.
Assistant Commissioner Peter Holt said reports of Bathurst businesses not declaring all of their income and of some local employers not paying full staff entitlements had prompted the planned crackdown.
The ATO will also run a series of seminars in Bathurst to help educate businesses about their responsibilities.
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But the tactics have angered Bathurst Business Chamber president Angus Edwards who said the city's businesses have been unfairly tarred by the ATO.
Mr Edwards said the chamber was supporting the ATO's education campaigns but questioned the need for such a strongly-worded press release this week.
"It was a heavy-handed press release tarring all business owners with the same brush," Mr Edwards said.
"There are some business people that don't do the right thing but the vast majority do.
"I have registered for their event and once they visit these Bathurst businesses I will be calling on the ATO to publish all the results and tell us if there was any substance to the strongly-worded and somewhat inflammatory media release that was put out.
"We're just not sure why Bathurst was singled out as opposed to any other place or any suburb of Sydney."
Mr Edwards said the increasing use of EFTPOS meant it was more difficult than ever to operate in a cash economy.
"I, like many people, go for weeks at a time without using cash these days because everything is automated," he said.
"To suggest that there's a lot of cash going around from legitimate and established businesses, I think, will prove unfounded."