Australian tax office to "knock on every door" chasing wealthy tax cheats

Xinhua News,CANBERRA
2020-03-12 11:33

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An official from Australian Taxation Office (ATO) said the agency will "knock on every door" to chase tax cheats as the richest people are avoiding tax to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars.

Deputy Commissioner of the ATO Tim Dyce said the agency was ready to "knock on every door" to recoup the significant shortfall on tax.

"Our research does also show that a small number of high-wealth private groups are deliberately engaging in risky behavior," he told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC).

"This includes seeking to engage in artificial and non-commercial arrangements that are intentionally designed to avoid paying tax."

A report released by the ATO on Thursday found that private groups who control the wealth of more than 50 million Australian dollars (32.4 million U.S. dollars) underpaid tax by 770 million AUD (499.2 million U.S. dollars) in financial year 2016-17 alone.

That group, which consisted of 5,000 high-wealth private groups, paid 9.3 billion AUD (6.03 billion U.S. dollars) in tax but there was a 7.7 percent gap between what they paid to the ATO and what they owed.

The ATO has begun hiring more than 100 staff for its Tax Avoidance Taskforce on order to crackdown on high-wealth private groups, including individuals, companies, partnerships and trusts.

"We are especially targeting this population as a key focus area," Dyce said. "We now have the resources to knock on the door of nearly every taxpayer in this population.

"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."

The maximum penalty for tax fraud in Australia is 10 years' imprisonment.
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