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ATO targeting offshore avoidance

The ATO has warned the net is closing in on individuals with undisclosed offshore income and assets.

News Michael Masterman 01 July 2014
— 1 minute read

Deputy commissioner Michael Cranston said the taxation office has ramped up its efforts to identify offshore tax evaders by mining data from overseas tax authorities and financial institutions to identify potential tax evaders.

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This information will be used to encourage people to disclose under Project DO IT, the ATO’s offshore disclosure initiative, he said.

Under Project Do It, people disclosing their offshore assets will generally be assessed for the last four years, be liable for a maximum shortfall penalty of 10 per cent and full shortfall interest charges, and will not be investigated by the ATO or referred for criminal investigation on the basis of their disclosures.

Mr Cranston said the net is closing for people who have undeclared offshore income.

“We’re looking at all our data and will be in touch with financial institutions, advisers and thousands of people over the coming months,” he said.

“We’ll be asking some people to explain offshore transactions and suggesting that they may want to disclose under Project DO IT. At the same time, people involved in serious tax evasion may be subject to audit.”

“As we consult with key financial institutions, tax advisers and accounting firms, they may get in touch with their clients to let them know it’s time to get their affairs in order and disclose under Project Do It”.

The ATO will examine data including: information from overseas tax authorities on Australians with offshore investments and bank accounts; information from Australian and foreign banks on fund flows, interest and account balances; information from informants about offshore accounts, and money transfers to and from offshore bank accounts.

Mr Cranston said the ATO expects a large number of disclosures towards the end of the Project Do It initiative as taxpayers get their affairs in order.

To date, the  initiative has received significant interest with 166 disclosures raising an additional $13 million in tax liabilities. There has also been more than 250 expressions of interest, where taxpayers have identified themselves and said they will be making a disclosure, according to the ATO.

Project Do It closes on 19 December 2014.

ATO targeting offshore avoidance
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