Advisers – including tax agents – who facilitate offshore tax evasion are in the sights of the ATO, which in the past week has visited several wealth management firms linked to offshore arrangements.
The tax evasion crackdown comes with the ATO having obtained more than 5,000 client names from wealth management firms.
The tax office has also identified 100 globally operating advisers and promoters that have a direct link with suspected tax evasion.
As part of the investigation, the ATO has contacted more than 100 Australian parents who have had school fees for their children paid via overseas bank accounts, and has subsequently visited seven adviser firms to conduct interviews and follow up any reporting discrepancies.
The investigation follows the ATO’s recent offshore disclosure initiative, 'Project DO IT: Disclose Offshore Income Today', which sought to return offshore funds to the Australian economy, with 5,800 Australians subsequently delivering $600 million in offshore income and $5.4 billion of assets back into the country.
“We’ll be visiting Australian advisers, including tax agents, legal advisers, financial institutions and stockbrokers to obtain their full client lists and identify those who have failed to come forward and clean up their tax arrangements under Project DO IT,” noted Michael Cranston, ATO deputy commissioner.
“The net is closing for people who think they can avoid their Australian tax obligations by holding money and assets offshore,” he added.
In a shift towards greater transparency, the ATO has announced a collaborative effort with tax administrations elsewhere in the world to undertake joint compliance action on advisers and taxpayers.
“For the first time, we have been able to compile a list of 100 advisers and promoters, operating onshore and offshore, that have a direct link with people who have evaded taxes,” Mr Cranston said.
‘We have now shared the list of advisers with nine key overseas tax administrations requesting them to undertake an intelligence review of their operations in their countries."
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