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Australian Investors Seek UN Help Over Tax Scheme Treatment

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

17 December 2001


A group of disgruntled Australian investors have petitioned the United Nations over now illegal tax minimisation investment schemes, claiming that the Australian government failed to protect their human rights by not intervening in the ATO's handling of the cases.

According to the petition, which was signed by 125 former investors in tax minimisation schemes, the Federal government breached Act 11 of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights by allowing the Australian Taxation Office to apply retrospective penalties and interest arising from their investments in schemes which were not, in fact, deemed to be illegal at the time that they were made.

It is estimated that around 65,000 Australians were caught by the schemes, which predominantly operated in the agricultural, film, and superannuation sectors, and this summer the ATO announced that it had collected around $400 million of the $1.5 billion owing in tax, penalties, and interest.

However, the investors argue that under Act 11, a person should be considered innocent until proven guilty, and cannot be penalised for an offense which was not a domestic or international offense at the time that it was committed.

'The people [involved in] this appeal are part of a group of Australians whose rights have been trampled on by the Australian government,' the petition reads.


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