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ATO Announces New Compliance Priorities

by Mary Swire,, Hong Kong

17 August 2007

The Australian Tax Office (ATO) has announced its compliance priorities for the current year, with the release of the Compliance Program 2007-08.

In releasing the program, Tax Commissioner Michael D’Ascenzo revealed that Australia enjoys high levels of compliance with tax and superannuation laws.

“Our program is as much about helping people to comply as it is about dealing firmly with those who don’t want to do the right thing," he stated.

Initiatives to better support individual and business taxpayers as well as tax agents are a priority in this year’s program.

These initiatives include help to improve tax governance, support tools for trustees of self-managed super funds, and improved access to expert advice for tax practitioners.

“We want to work with the community to reduce red tape and minimise compliance costs,“ stated Mr D’Ascenzo.

“For example this year we will provide more services including an assistance program for small business, more pre-filling options to help people complete their tax returns accurately and quickly, and products to assist people with their super obligations."

“We also have a commitment to deliver new legislative measures, and our approach to doing this is to consult, collaborate and co-design effective implementation with representative bodies."

“Our aim is to be as unobtrusive as possible to the majority of people who meet their obligations, but to be highly visible to those who don’t."

“This is about fairness and creating a level playing field for everyone,“ Mr D’Ascenzo added.

International risks, corporate restructuring, mergers and acquisitions, the cash economy, self-managed super funds and super guarantee obligations are some of the areas facing increased scrutiny this year.

Serious fraud and evasion are once again high on the agenda this year.

Project Wickenby investigations will continue, and new laws will mean that the Tax Office can also act against promoters of aggressive tax evasion schemes.

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