ATO gets adviser info from foreign interests push

19 September 2018

The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) has revealed that Project DO IT, a scheme set up to encourage participants to disclose all offshore assets and income, provided it with “valuable intelligence” about financial institutions and advisers that may have been involved in offshore cases.

The crackdown on foreign interests saw over 5,900 taxpayers come forward, with previously undisclosed income of approximately $656 million and previously undisclosed assets of $6.7 billion being disclosed. This saw over $264 million revenue raised, with the ATO predicting that additional tax revenue would also continue to be received in future years as a result of those individuals being back in the system.

“As a result of these disclosures, the ATO also gathered valuable intelligence about financial institutions, advisors and promoters involved in offshore matters which may not have otherwise come to light,” the ATO said in a statement.

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“We are applying this intelligence in our enforcement action to combat offshore tax evasion.”

The Office also warned that recent critical media coverage of Project DO IT had the potential to undermine public confidence in its administration of the tax and superannuation systems. Some media reports appeared to write off the project, which ended in December 2014, as having targeted high wealth individuals for lenient treatment of money held in Swiss bank accounts.

The ATO said that this was incorrect, with “the vast majority” of people making disclosures not being in the high wealth category, and Switzerland not being the project’s focus.

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