02 Mar ATO tackling international tax evasion
Australian tax residents are taxed in Australia on their worldwide income. While most do the right thing and declare all their income, some people and businesses try to avoid paying tax by exploiting secrecy provisions and information-sharing gaps between countries.
A recent coordinated effort by the Joint Chiefs of Global Tax Enforcement (J5) has yielded evidence of tax evasion by Australians. The J5 consists of the tax and revenue agencies of Australia, the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada and the Netherlands and was initially formed in 2018 to fight global tax evasion. The countries share intelligence on international tax crime as well as money laundering.
According to the ATO, several hundred Australians are suspected of participating in arrangements with an international financial institution in Central America whose products and services are believed to be facilitating worldwide money laundering and tax evasion. Multiple investigations are currently under way, and anyone with information about the scheme or other similar arrangements is encouraged to contact the ATO.
The ATO has a network of international tax treaties and information exchange agreements with over 100 jurisdictions. In recent years over 2,500 exchanges of information have occurred, enabling the ATO to identify unpaid tax amounts totalling $1 billion.
TIP: The message from the ATO is that anyone with offshore income or assets is better off declaring their interests voluntarily. Those who do so may be eligible for reductions in related administrative penalties and interest charges.