THE Australian Taxation Office might say the results speak for themselves with regard to a highly-publicised swoop on Bathurst businesses last month, but they are probably alone in that assessment.
While in Bathurst, the ATO staff visited about 350 businesses to investigate if they were engaged in the black economy.
The visits followed 47 tip-offs from the public since July 1 related to possible breaches at local businesses but it was the decision to issue a press release prior to the visits that raised a few eyebrows.
In that release, Assistant Commissioner Peter Holt clearly identified Bathurst as a suspected hotbed of questionable business practice.
"These dishonest businesses in Bathurst are unfairly overtaking their honest competitors when it comes to their tax so we're going to take a look under a few bonnets to ensure everything is in order. By detecting and addressing this behaviour, we're helping to ensure honest small businesses can get a fair run around the track," Mr Holt said.
It was strong stuff, but was it fair? The Bathurst Business Chamber certainly didn't think so, labelling the ATO's approach "heavy-handed" tactics that tarred all Bathurst businesses.
Well, now the results are in and we can all judge for ourselves.
The ATO says it has identified about 80 Bathurst businesses that will be provided further assistance (and investigation) with regard to their account-keeping and tax systems.
With more than 3000 businesses registered in Bathurst, that's a hit rate of less than three per cent.
ATO investigators also uncovered some startling stories - including the local business owner who has not lodged a personal tax return since 1996 - but the results hardly paint a picture of systematic rorting by local businesses.
And that's the bar that the ATO's approach must be measured against.
Honest Bathurst businesses - and they are by far the majority - have every right to be angry that they were unfairly tarred by this whole process.
No one objects to the ATO visiting businesses suspected of wrongdoing but there was no need to make such a song and dance about their plans.
Next time, why not conduct the visits quietly and only go public when you have the final results?