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High-wealth clients targeted in ATO insurance data grab

Around 350,000 high-net-worth taxpayers with lifestyle assets are set to undergo scrutiny from the ATO after it revealed it would obtain five more years of policy details from insurers.

Tax&Compliance Jotham Lian 18 December 2019
— 2 minute read

The ATO has today revealed its request to receive a further five years’ worth of policy information from over 30 insurance companies about taxpayers who own marine vessels, thoroughbred horses, fine art, high-value motor vehicles and aircraft.

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The request will see the Tax Office’s lifestyle assets data-matching program extended up to 2019–20, with the agency already holding insurance policy information for the 2013–14 and 2014–15 financial years.

Marine vessels over the value of $100,000, motor vehicles worth over $65,000, thoroughbred horses worth over $65,000, fine art over $100,000 per item, and aircraft worth over $150,000 all fall within the ATO’s data-collection scope.

The Tax Office will use this information to form a more complete picture of a taxpayer’s financial situation to ensure they are fulfilling their tax and superannuation reporting obligations.

ATO deputy commissioner Deborah Jenkins said that while the Tax Office anticipates receiving information about assets owned by around 350,000 taxpayers, the data would not be used to initiate automated compliance activity.

“Taxpayers selected for compliance activities are identified through other methodologies. The data is made available to our compliance teams to support their risk profiling of the selected taxpayers. Existence of an insurance policy may or may not prompt the compliance officer to pursue a particular line of inquiry,” Ms Jenkins said.

“If a taxpayer is reporting a taxable income of $70,000 to us but we know they own a $3 million yacht, then this is likely to raise some red flags.

“Regardless of your level of wealth, we all need to pay the correct amount of tax, and this data will allow us to ensure those people who can afford these kinds of items are doing the right thing, along with everyone else.”

The ATO will retain each financial year’s data for five years from receipt of the final instalment of verified data files from the data providers.

Ms Jenkins also noted that aside from helping identify taxpayers who may be understating their income, the data from insurers may be used by the ATO to identify taxpayers who have made capital gains on the disposal of certain assets but who have not declared this to the ATO.

“With high-value assets like fine art, there can be some significant capital gains made when these assets are sold, and capital gains tax may need to be paid on the sale or disposal of these items,” Ms Jenkins said.

The data will also be used by the ATO to identify incorrect goods and services tax (GST) input tax credits where taxpayers are purchasing the assets for purely personal reasons and claiming GST credits as if the item was a business asset.

Self-managed superannuation funds that the ATO suspects may be acquiring lifestyle assets purely for personal enjoyment of the fund’s trustee or beneficiaries are also likely to be looked at by the ATO.  

Data will be obtained from the following insurers:

  • AAMI
  • AIG
  • Allianz
  • Apia
  • Bingle
  • CGU Insurance
  • Chubb Insurance
  • Club Marine
  • Coles Insurance
  • CommInsure
  • GIO
  • Insuremyride
  • Just Car Insurance
  • Lumley
  • Nautilus Marine
  • NRMA
  • QBE
  • RAA Insurance
  • RACQ
  • RACV
  • RAC Insurance
  • Resilium
  • SGIC
  • SGIO
  • Shannons
  • Suncorp
  • Swann Insurance
  • Vero
  • WFI
  • Youi
  • Zurich Australian Insurance
High-wealth clients targeted in ATO insurance data grab
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Jotham Lian

Jotham Lian

Jotham Lian is the editor of Accountants Daily, the leading source of breaking news, analysis and insight for Australian accounting professionals.

Before joining the team in 2017, Jotham wrote for a range of national mastheads including the Sydney Morning Herald, and Channel NewsAsia.

You can email Jotham at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

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