ATO targets adviser firms on offshore tax evasion

The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) has revealed it has visited seven adviser firms in what it describes as ramped focus on offshore tax evasion.

It said the adviser firm visits had been associated with contact being made with more than 100 parents who had school fees paid from overseas bank accounts.

Further, the ATO said it had developed an intelligence picture about advisers who put clients into offshore arrangements.

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An ATO announcement said the move was part of a new wave of action to combat offshore evasion which had involved the ATO obtaining more than 5,000 client names from wealth management firms and compiling a list of 100 advisers and promoters operating globally that have a direct link with people who may have evaded taxes.

It said the move follows the ATO's offshore disclosure initiative, Project DO IT: disclosure offshore income today. Under the project, more than 5,800 Australians have brought $600 million in offshore income and $5.4 billion in assets back into the Australian economy and the ATO has raised more than $245 million in additional tax revenue liabilities for the community.

Commenting on the activity, ATO deputy commissioner, Michael Cranston, said the net was closing for people who thought they could avoid their Australian tax obligations by holding money and assets offshore.

"The intelligence picture we now have has been built from information taxpayers disclosed under Project DO IT about the adviser who put them into the offshore arrangements, data mining, and client records seized from advisers in transit," Cranston said.

"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."

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