ATO reacts to Panama data leak
The ATO has issued its response to the monumental data release relating to offshore tax havens, which has embroiled several high-profile organisations and individuals.
"Recently, the ATO received data in relation to a Panamanian law firm containing names of a significant number of Australian residents," the Tax Office said in a statement.
"We have identified over 800 individual taxpayers and we have now linked over 120 of them to an associate offshore service provider located in Hong Kong."
The statement continued: "These cases relate to the release of data by transparency or media organisations in Australia and overseas. ATO intelligence on tax evasion comes from a variety of sources, including from concerned citizens, advisers, partner agencies and international bodies."
ATO deputy commissioner Michael Cranston said that since the completion of the offshore disclosure initiative ‘Project DO IT’, the ATO has ramped up its compliance work to deal with taxpayers who have failed to disclose offshore income and assets. Sharing information and coordinating action closely with other tax administrations is a large part of this work.
“We promised the community that following Project DO IT we would continue to build our intelligence base, undertake audits, apply significant penalties and refer the worst cases for criminal investigation,” Mr Cranston said.
“We have been analysing the latest data against information these taxpayers had reported to the ATO and against the information we already have. We are also working closely with the AFP, Australian Crime Commission and AUSTRAC to further cross-check the data and strengthen our intelligence."
He added: “The message is clear – taxpayers can’t rely on these secret arrangements being kept secret and we will act on any information that is provided to us."