ATO’s overseas income project pays dividends

The Australian Taxation Office’s (ATO’s) recent campaign encouraging people to declare overseas income has had a positive impact on the Government’s coffers, according to a recently-released report from the Australian National Audit Office (ANAO).

The ANAO report examined the number of tax settlements entered into by the ATO but also revealed the degree to which the so-called Project DO IT (Declare Overseas Income Today) drove a surge in revenue as taxpayers with overseas holdings entered into arrangements with for payment.

Project DO IT was an ATO initiative announced in March 2014 that was designed to encourage taxpayers with unreported offshore income and assets to make voluntary disclosures and re-engage with the Australian tax system.

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Under the project, eligible taxpayers who came forward would generally only be assessed for limited penalties and interest, and would not be investigated on the basis of their disclosures.

The ANAO report pointed to the effectiveness of the project noting that the increased number of settlements in 2014–15 and 2015–16 could be attributed to settlements finalised as part of Project DO IT.

It said that there were 335 and 676 Project DO IT cases within the settlements finalised in 2014–15 and 2015–16 respectively, with all Project DO IT settlement cases finalised as at early 2016-17.

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