ATO statement regarding the ‘Paradise Papers’
The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) is today reporting about information they have in relation to offshore law firm Appleby.
The ATO has been working closely for several months with our partner agencies here and overseas in anticipation of a data release by the ICIJ. These relationships have enabled the ATO to commence analysis of the intelligence received to identify possible Australian links.
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.
“We anticipate further data may be published by the ICIJ and the ATO will continue to work closely with other tax administrations to share intelligence on advisers operating globally.
“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.
“Internationally, the Joint International Taskforce on Shared Intelligence and Collaboration (JITSIC) is already collaborating within existing legal frameworks following the statement by Appleby last month. JITSIC brings together 37 national tax administrations that have committed to more effective and efficient ways to deal with tax avoidance.
“As Chair of JITSIC the Commissioner brought member countries together last year to discuss global responses and formalise concrete actions in relation to the Panama 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.
“This highlights the ATO’s ability to lead effective multilateral working groups and success in working with international partners to improve the way in which tax administrations exchange information and to develop a better shared understanding of the types of arrangements used to evade and avoid tax.
“Given our early analysis of the data and the ability of the JITSIC member countries to come together quickly to build on each other’s intelligence holdings and insights, I am confident the ATO is in a position to respond decisively to this data release.
“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. To make a voluntary disclosure, taxpayers can go to ato.gov.au.