Our cross-agency and international relationships help us keep up to date with the changing nature of tax evasion and crime. This includes putting in place best-practice tax laws to reduce opportunities for tax evasion and 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 $549 million in the 2017–18 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 evasion and crime on a global scale. Our strategies include:
- accessing information and resources from private and government sources
- participating in information sharing, automated data matching, intelligence gathering, analytics, investigations and audits with international tax administrations using Australia’s bilateral tax treaties and the multilateral convention on mutual administrative assistance in tax matters
- working with our partner agencies through the Serious Financial Crime Taskforce (SFCT) to address the most serious forms of financial and organised crime
- entering into information exchange agreements and obtaining information from countries previously regarded as secrecy jurisdictions
- working with Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC), with its enhanced capability to detect, monitor and report international transactions
- working internationally with the Joint Chiefs of Global Tax Enforcement (J5) to gather information, share intelligence and conduct joint operations in relation to cybercrime, cryptocurrency fraud and enablers and facilitators of offshore tax crime
- working with other OECD networks like the Joint International Taskforce on Sharing Intelligence and Collaboration (JITSIC) to share information relating to tax avoidance and evasion.
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:
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 from across the globe. This collaborative work provides valuable support and the opportunity to share best-practice processes with our international counterparts. The Australian Taxation Office (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.
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 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.
Our domestic and international relationships help us to reduce opportunities for tax crime and catch tax evaders.