Australia launches new offshore tax "amnesty"
December 03 2009
The Australian Tax Office (ATO) has announced a new scheme to
allow some offshore tax avoiders to regularise their affairs
without risking prosecution.
From now until 30 June 2010, Australians will be able to tell
the ATO about their untaxed offshore assets and income, and receive
in return an indication whether they are likely to be prosecuted if
they now disclose it. Crucially, they can do this without revealing
their identity and thus burning their boats. The previous amnesty,
launched in 2007, omitted that provision and had limited
The new voluntary disclosure scheme increases the penalties on
large-scale offshore tax avoiders. Individuals whose undisclosed
taxable income was more than A$20,000 in a tax year will have to
pay a "shortfall penalty" of 10 per cent, instead of the 5 per cent
imposed in the 2007 amnesty. However, there is no penalty where
untaxed income was below that threshold.
The ATO is warning that those who do not disclose their offshore
affairs before the quasi-amnesty expires on 30 June will find that
"all bets are off".
"For undeclared income through an audit process, penalties can
be as high as 90 per cent, and we will seek prosecution in serious
cases," said tax commissioner Michael D'Ascenzo. He pointed out
that the ATO now has much more access to personal financial records
held in other countries, under tax information exchange agreements:
"The net is closing on tax havens.”
ATO (Offshore voluntary disclosure pages)
ATO (D'Ascenzo's statement)
The Age newspaper
Sydney Morning Herald
The Australian Financial Review
Marie Louise Pardanaud