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Australia Reviews Anti-Tax Evasion Initiative

by Mike Godfrey,, Washington

06 June 2014

Australia's flagship anti-evasion program, Project Wickenby, has helped to secure a 13 percent reduction in the value of outward flows to territories with which it does not share tax information, it has been reported.

The figures were revealed in a new report by the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC).

Project Wickenby is a multi-agency taskforce. It was set up in 2006 to protect the integrity of Australia's financial and regulatory systems. It prevents people from promoting or participating in the abusive use of what the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) labels "secrecy havens."

The ATO defines a "secrecy haven" as "a country, region or state that does not divulge information about an individual's financial/banking affairs or structures." These jurisdictions do not have effective information exchange agreements with Australia. 13 jurisdictions are deemed "of interest" by the Project Wickenby taskforce.

AUSTRAC's analysis of fund flows in 2012-13 shows that the net value of funds flowing into the target jurisdictions was AUD13bn (USD12.05bn). Incoming transfers were worth AUD60bn, while outgoing transfers were worth AUD47bn. There is far less money flowing into these jurisdictions than five years ago, with a 13 percent drop in the value of outwards funds flows in 2012-13 compared to 2007-08, it said.

The flow of funds has generally followed the anticipated trend of "more funds flowing into" and "less funds flowing out of" Australia. Between July 2007 and June 2012, a total of AUD292bn was transferred from Australia, while AUD367bn was transferred in.

As at February 28, 2014, Project Wickenby has collected AUD816.59m in outstanding revenue, it says. This exceeds the targeted collection of AUD632.9m set for this date.

TAGS: individuals | tax | banking | Australia | tax authority | agreements | tax planning | revenue statistics | Tax | Tax Evasion

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