The Australian Taxation Office is on the hunt for 5600 Australian taxpayers who didn’t respond to letters about hiding cash and assets in tax havens as part of the Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Initiative. The ATO says it is well placed to track them down, last week unveiling a new weapon in its fight against tax haven cheats known as the Multilateral Convention. Australia and 42 other countries from across Europe, South America and Africa have agreed to share information and conduct joint audits. The Multilateral Convention on Mutual Administrative Assistance in Tax Matters — developed jointly by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development and the Council of Europe — allows for the exchange of taxpayer information, as well as for assistance in the recovery of taxes and for the service of documents. It will also allow tax auditors to enter other countries to interview individuals and examine records. Membership of the accord is expected to grow. Crikey understands the ATO is currently pursuing some old international debt cases. A Tax Office spokesperson said: “For operational reasons we cannot disclose specific information on the secrecy jurisdictions that are on our watch list. However, given the information made available publicly to date, I can confirm that Switzerland is among the jurisdictions where Project Wickenby continues to have a major focus. Other secrecy jurisdictions of concern where there is no effective exchange of information with Australia include Hong Kong, Luxembourg, Panama and the Seychelles.” The OVDI initiative — the Tax Office wrote to taxpayers offering them a deal to make voluntary disclosures in return for lenient treatment such as reduced penalties — has now ended. The ATO sourced information from banks, the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre and other authorities overseas to come up with a hit list of potential cheats. More than 8000 taxpayers came forward to disclose over $950 million in omitted foreign income, capital gains and over-claimed deductions from assets across 60 jurisdictions. The value of offshore assets held by individual taxpayers, companies, partnerships and trusts ranged from as little as $1 up to $80 million. Taxpayers submitted disclosures as far back as the 1970s, declaring a vast range of foreign assets and income. Disclosures varied from simple bank interest and dividends to more complex structures involving trusts, foreign investment funds and Wickenby arrangements (Project Wickenby is a cross-agency taskforce charged with combating tax evasion). “Simple investments disclosed were mostly linked to the United Kingdom, Hong Kong and Singapore, with the more complex arrangements involving funds controlled by financial institutions operating out of Switzerland,” said Mark Konza, the ATO’s deputy commissioner of taxation. After the offer closed, the Tax Office conducted a follow-up review of the cross-border fund transfers of taxpayers who did not respond to letters sent under the OVDI. This resulted in over 9000 cases, raising another $216 million in net revenue. “A further 5600 taxpayers will be reviewed in 2013,” said Konza.
Another year is underway. Most businesses are now back on deck and it’s time to think about what is likely to occur over the coming months.
Divorce statistics don’t make for great reading. One in three first marriages and one in two second marriages end in divorce.
CPA Australia has expressed concern following claims of a "tick and flick" approach to audit decisions by the Australian Taxation Office.
“I’m from the Tax Office and I’m here to help you.”
A potential investor has asked for financial information in order to complete due diligence.
The tax watchdog wants the Tax Office to improve its audit processes, after the ATO wrongly investigated almost 6,000 small business owners as part of a crackdown on the cash economy.
A tax expert has issued a warning to “on call” home-based IT professionals, after the Australian Taxation Office confirmed it will place greater scrutiny on claims made by IT workers.
With the financial year finished, you may be looking at your end of year position. Hopefully it is a nice healthy profit, in which case you may be thinking about the best way to manage those profits for tax purposes. Everyone will agree that the less tax you have to pay the better.
The operators of a NSW transport business face substantial fines after the Fair Work Ombudsman launched a prosecution against them, alleging they were involved in sham contracting activity.
The end of the financial year has come and gone but that doesn’t mean you can become complacent about the role of tax in your business.
This article first appeared on May 29, 2011 The end of the financial year means so many things to so many people. For many, it’s a time of closing budgets. For others, it’s a time of celebration of jobs well done. For others, it’s a frantic rush to get their tax affairs sorted.
The federal budget attempts to be a Robin Hood budget, taking from the rich and giving to the poor, but like the classic tale it might be the Sheriff of Nottingham (aka the Tax Office) that business needs to watch out for.
The Reserve Bank is under pressure to trim interest rates today, following new figures that show inflation is soft and new home sales are weak in the Australian economy.
Look at any company that is in financial trouble and you will probably see the Tax Office as one of the larger creditors.
This article first appeared on July 17th, 2012. The advantages of starting your business from the comfort of your own home are clear – you keep your overheads to a minimum, you eliminate the daily commute and you can be flexible with your hours.
The New Year is now well and truly under way. Knowing what to expect in the year to come will give your business a head start.
Starting up may mean launching your own venture. But it can also involve buying another business. However, be aware that the latter option isn’t hassle-free.
The number of companies entering external administration jumped nearly 14% to 1,049 in August, the second-highest reading on record, new figures show.
Increasingly, business owners are looking for flexibility in their employment obligations and ways in which to better manage their labour costs.