Questions raised over cash payment limit

Proposed laws which could land Australians in jail for using more than $10,000 in cash to pay for goods and services are facing a backlash.

In the 2018-19 federal budget, the Morrison government announced it would introduce an economy-wide cash payment limit of $10,000 for payments made or accepted by businesses for goods and services.

Transactions equal to, or in excess of this amount would need to be made using the electronic payment system or by cheque.

The aim of the laws – expected to start from January 2020 – is to tackle tax evasion and other criminal activities.

However, CPA Australia said in a submission to the draft bill that while it supported action to crack down on the black economy “to link all large cash transactions to criminality is a step too far”.

“The proposed offences can lead to an individual being convicted, fined and/or jailed for up to two years for merely using cash, regardless of the purpose or nature of the transaction,” CPA Australia’s Dr Gary Pflugrath said.

The organisation listed a number of problems with the bill including unnecessarily and unreasonably broad offences, the introduction of vicarious liability into criminal law, a reversal of the onus of proof and insufficient legal defences.

“We believe the policy intent behind this bill would best be achieved by a mix of administrative penalties for breaches and incentives for business to move to electronic payment options.”

One Nation says it will oppose the laws when they come to parliament.

“Legal tender is legal tender,” Senator Malcolm Roberts said.


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