The government has proposed to amend the Australian Securities and Investments Commission Act 2001 to enable ASIC to more easily share information with the ATO.
Subsection 127(2A) of the act currently allows ASIC to share the confidential information it obtains with certain individuals and entities. However, a confidentiality provision prevents ASIC from sharing that information with the ATO unless the chairperson or their delegate approves it.
The proposed amendment would add the commissioner of taxation to the entities listed under subsection 127(2A) that ASIC is allowed to share confidential information with.
“The current requirements are a bit restrictive in that ASIC can share information but they have to go through a bit of a process, so this would give them much more freedom to share information with the ATO,” HLB Mann Judd partner Peter Bembrick told AccountantsDaily.
“When you talk about some advantages from the ATO's perspective, it certainly makes it more efficient for them and gives them much more awareness of things that people are doing.”
Mr Bembrick said that the proposed amendment appears to be part of two ongoing trends.
“It’s part of a general theme that we've seeing in the last few years in relation to over a period of time seeing the ATO's powers increase significantly, and it's part of a theme of information sharing,” he said.
The ATO has indeed been warning for some time that its increasing data-matching capabilities will leave non-compliers with little chance of escaping detection and potential penalties.
Its data-matching capabilities with large Australian institutions and government agencies are at their most advanced, and the chances of getting away with non-compliance have been greatly reduced.
The proposed amendment to the act would reduce that chance even further, according to Mr Bembrick.
“When you look at the tax return pre-fill, it seems like every year there's more and more information that's available to the ATO,” Mr Bembrick said.
“You've just got to assume that all information is available and can become available, because there's so much data sharing these days."
Recently, the ATO also announced it will be upping its focus on personal data such as social media to catch out tax cheats.