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ATO Reports On Tax Evasion Crackdown

by Mary Swire, Tax-News,com, Hong Kong

14 December 2012

More than 450 Australian individuals and companies were convicted for tax and superannuation criminal offences over the last quarter, new figures from the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) have shown.

The convictions resulted in over AUD1.56m (USD1.65m) in fines and penalties, with Tax Commissioner Michael D'Ascenzo stressing that the ATO pursues those suspected of tax evasion "to the full extent of the law to ensure people who pay their fair share of tax are not disadvantaged."

In the July-September period, 13 people were convicted of serious tax and superannuation related criminal offences, including two prosecuted under Project Wickenby. Project Wickenby is a cross-agency task force set up in 2006 to prevent the promotion of and participation in the abusive use of "secrecy havens." To date, 28 people have been sentenced under the project.

In addition, 452 taxpayers were convicted of deliberately evading their tax and superannuation obligations. This figure includes 440 taxpayers who failed to lodge tax returns and activity statements despite reminders and notices demanding lodgment.

Among the punishments handed out for fraud and tax evasion were seven custodial sentences, ranging from two years (with 12 months suspended) to eight years and 11 months (with a non-parole period of six years eight months). A further three community service orders of up to 200 hours and two good behavior bonds of 12 and 18 months were imposed. According to D'Ascenzo, these figures demonstrate how seriously the courts view these matters.

D'Ascenzo said that the ATO continues to improve automated detection methods and works closely with its partners in government, law enforcement and industry to identify those avoiding their obligations. The increasingly sophisticated information matching capabilities available to the ATO are enabling the ATO to protect the overall integrity of the system, he added.

TAGS: individuals | court | compliance | tax | tax compliance | tax avoidance | law | Australia | enforcement | penalties

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