ATO cracks down on HNWs

The Australian Taxation Office has announced it will be expanding its Tax Avoidance Taskforce and introducing a new program targeting high wealth private groups.

The ATO said in the 2016-17 financial year high wealth individuals and groups avoided paying around $770 million.

The ATO said its research shows there are a small number of high wealth private groups which are deliberately engaging in risky behaviour, including engaging in artificial arrangements designed to avoid paying tax.

ATO deputy commissioner Tim Dyce said the ATO is still confident that its compliance strategies are tackling the bad behaviour it has seen from higher-risk taxpayers and their agents.

"From 1 July 2020 we will be expanding the work of the Tax Avoidance Taskforce and as part of this we are introducing a new program focusing on high wealth private groups and engaging early to help them get it right," Dyce said.

"Those seeking to obtain an unfair advantage by avoiding their tax obligations will attract our full attention and will be the subject of strong enforcement action."

"Access to sophisticated data and analytical tools has increased our ability to match data from Australian and off-shore institutions and regulators and means that those engaging in tax avoidance activities will be caught out. It is not a matter of if but when."

Dyce said the ATO's primary focus is on supporting taxpayers to get things right, and has seen a continual improvement.

"We recognise the important role that tax professionals have in helping high wealth private groups get their tax right," he said.

"In addition to seeking qualified advice from a registered tax professional, we know that high wealth private groups who invest in robust tax governance practices are more likely to get their tax right."

The ATO defines the high wealth tax gap population as individuals and companies linked to a high wealth private group with group net wealth greater than $50 million and ownership greater than 40%.

"The mums and dads of Australia want confidence that wealthy Australians are paying the right amount of tax and that we are doing our job and dealing with those who are deliberately avoiding paying tax," Dyce said.

Read more: ATOTax Avoidance TaskforceAustralian Taxation OfficeTim DyceHigh net wealth
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