On 6 November 2017 the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) reported that they had significant amounts of leaked information from an offshore law firm Appleby in Bermuda – that they called the ‘Paradise Papers’.

The ATO was anticipating this release and issued the following media release, to coincide with the ICIJ release of the Paradise Papers.

The ATO has already been working with 37 national tax administrations, under the banner of the ‘Joint International Taskforce on Shared Intelligence and Collaboration’ (JITSIC), which our Commissioner: Chris Jordan, currently chairs. The Commissioner brought member countries together last year to discuss global responses and formalise concrete actions in relation to the Panama Papers, which can now merge with the Paradise Papers. JITSIC member countries will continue to leverage off the success of the Panama Papers and work together to pool resources and share intelligence to rapidly develop a more accurate picture of what the data is telling us.

Deputy Commissioner International, Mark Konza said that the ATO is at the forefront of international co-operation and engagement and is regularly acquiring new sources of data and intelligence, which bolsters information we already have. “ATO intelligence on tax avoidance comes from a variety of sources, including from concerned citizens, advisers, partner agencies and international bodies,” Mr Konza said.The data we are receiving from our international and domestic sources is comprehensive and current. This robust intelligence coupled with our powerful analytics capabilities, assists us to continue to tackle tax avoidance head-on.

Domestically, we are working with the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission, the Australian Federal Police, and AUSTRAC to further cross-check data and build our intelligence base, undertake audits, apply significant tax penalties where appropriate and refer cases to the Serious Financial Crime Taskforce for criminal investigation.

 

The ATO says: “We know and trust that most people do the right thing, and that many taxpayers identified as part of the leak will be meeting their Australian tax obligations. However, we investigate all leads and have the resources and expertise to take action against taxpayers or intermediaries found to be caught-up in the illegal use of offshore structures or providers.” The ATO encourages those who believe they may have undeclared offshore income to contact the ATO and come forward by making a voluntary disclosure.

[ATO website: media release; FJM; LTN 212, 6/11/17; Related Tax Month article; Panama Papers TT article; Tax Month Nov 2017]

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