Australia Launches Disclosure Program
March 28, 2014 Taxation in Australia
CANBERRA – The tax authorities of Australia are offering significant reductions in penalties and fees to any taxpayer coming forward by the end of the year with information on their unpaid taxes and offshore incomes.
On March 27th the Australian Tax Office launched Project DO IT, a new voluntary disclosure program aimed at enticing taxpayers to come forward and disclose information about any assets or incomes hidden offshore, in exchange for reduced fees and some protection from prosecution.
Under the conditions of the new program, any individual, corporate entity, or trust coming forward prior to December 14th 2014 with information about their previously undisclosed incomes or assets, will face a penalty of only 10 percent of the taxes owing, compared to the standard rate of 90 percent, and may even enjoy a waiver on any shortfall penalties if the outstanding payment is less than AUD 20 000.
The information provided to the ATO as part of a disclosure will not be investigated for evidence of criminal offenses, and none of the uncovered information will be passed to law enforcement agencies for further investigation.
While announcing the launch of the program, the Commissioner of the ATO Chris Jordan urged taxpayers to take advantage of the disclosure scheme, and said that “…now is the time for individuals with offshore income to get their affairs in order and avoid steep penalties and the risk of criminal prosecution,” as otherwise “…it’s just a matter of time before you’ll be caught.”