• Global cooperation

    Our cross-agency and international relationships help us keep up to date with the changing nature of tax crime, including putting in place best-practice tax laws to reduce opportunities for tax crime and increase the chances of catching tax evaders.

    Transnational transactions are a feature of the global economy. Revenue collection agencies around the world are increasingly sharing intelligence and expertise in financial investigations to fight tax evasion and organised tax crime. Australia’s network of more than 100 information sharing agreements enabled us to raise assessments totalling around $480 million in the 2012–13 financial year.

    Income concealed offshore, poor transparency of offshore activities, and practical difficulties associated with getting information about a taxpayer's offshore activities all present risks for the international tax system.

    To address these, we work with governments and organisations around the world to fight tax crime on a global scale. Our strategies include:

    • accessing information and resources from private and government organisations
    • participating in information sharing, automated data matching, intelligence gathering, investigations and audits with international tax administrations using Australia’s bilateral tax treaties, multilateral convention on mutual administrative assistance in tax matters
    • entering into agreements and obtaining information from countries previously regarded as secrecy jurisdictions
    • gathering information from foreign and domestic banks about offshore accounts
    • working with Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC), with its enhanced capability to detect, monitor and report international transactions.

    In addition to these strategies, Australian courts have endorsed our use of information from overseas informants as part of tax assessment and audit processes.

    This engagement at the international level allows us to share intelligence, improve our ability to influence international policy, and cooperate with other jurisdictions.

    We collaborate with international revenue agencies bilaterally, and through groups and forums such as:

    G20

    The Group of Twenty (G20) comprises the governments of the 19 major economies plus the European Union.

    Australia’s G20 presidency, which included hosting the G20 in 2014, gave us a valuable opportunity to influence the global economic agenda and to strengthen engagement with the world’s major economies.

    G20 international tax cooperation will continue to focus on three related areas:

    • addressing tax avoidance, particularly base erosion and profit shifting to ensure profits are taxed in the location where the economic activity takes place
    • promoting international tax transparency and the global sharing of information so that taxpayers with offshore investments comply with their domestic tax obligations
    • ensuring that developing countries benefit from the G20’s tax agenda, particularly in relation to information sharing.

    OECD

    We contribute to a number of forums on tax administration supported by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), which brings together more than 30 governments. This collaborative work provides valuable support and the opportunity to share best-practice processes with our international counterparts. The ATO participates in the Taskforce on Tax Crimes and Other Crimes, which is mandated to improve the ability of tax administrations to identify, audit, investigate and disrupt tax crime and other serious crimes, including money laundering and bribery, by sharing experiences and examining specific tax and crime risks.

    Global Forum

    The Global Forum was originally established in 2001 by both OECD and non-OECD countries to tackle the use of secrecy jurisdictions. The forum's primary focus is to exchange information and to develop the international standard of transparency. The forum now includes 122 members, making it the largest tax group in the world. With the support of the G20, the Global Forum was re-structured in 2009 to establish an in-depth peer-review process. The Peer Review Group (PRG) monitors and reviews the progress of its members towards the international standard of transparency and exchange of information.

    Study Group on Asian Tax Administration and Research

    In the Asian region, we are a strong supporter of the Study Group on Asian Tax Administration and Research (SGATAR), which aims to bring about tax administrative reform in the region through sharing information and insights on specific tax issues. It also aims to strengthen collaborative approaches to addressing tax evasion in the Asia Pacific Region.

    SGATAR was established in 1970, with the Meeting of Heads of Training Institutions (MHTI) established in 2001 to strengthen international training cooperation.

    There are currently 16 member countries – Australia, People's Republic of China, Chinese Taipei, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Republic of Korea, Macau, Malaysia, Mongolia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

    Australia hosted the 44th SGATAR and 7th MHTI in November 2014 in Sydney.

    Coinciding with Australia's role as chair of the group in 2015, a special-purpose taskforce has been set up to reform SGATAR and inject it with a renewed sense of purpose in developing technical capability and increasing tax transparency in the Asia-Pacific region.

    Commonwealth Association of Tax Administrators

    The Commonwealth Association of Tax Administrators (CATA) helps member countries develop effective tax administrations that promote sustainable development and good governance over the long-term. This is achieved through training programmes, technical conferences and knowledge sharing. Australia and Papua New Guinea are the Pacific Region representatives on the management committee of CATA.

    See also:

    Last modified: 03 Aug 2015QC 33612