Show download pdf controls
  • International tax crime

    Most offshore dealings are legitimate and comply with Australian laws. But some people try to exploit secrecy provisions in other countries to conceal their assets and income and avoid their tax obligations. We are concerned about concealment, and particularly schemes and arrangements that use secrecy provisions in other countries to conceal assets and income that are subject to tax in Australia

    Australian residents (for tax purposes) are taxed in Australia on their worldwide income. Most offshore dealings comply with Australian laws. But some people try to exploit secrecy provisions in other countries to avoid paying tax in Australia.

    In Australia, the ATO-led Serious Financial Crime Taskforce (SFCT) tackles offshore tax evasion. Working together we apply the full power of a multi-agency approach to track illegal activity and bring criminals to justice.

    We also work with governments and organisations around the world to fight tax evasion on a global scale. Australia has a network of international treaties and information exchange agreements with over 100 jurisdictions. We also receive information from informants.

    We use this information to identify facilitators – including banks, lawyers and financial advisors. Where appropriate, we use the Commissioner of Taxation's formal access and information gathering powers to force them to provide us with information about their clients. If we see that a practitioner has a number of clients using the same methods to avoid or evade tax, we will look at their whole client base.

    The sheer size of information available to us for analysis should send a clear message to those who believe that their data is secure, hidden and beyond our reach – it is not.

    Consequences of illegal offshore activity

    If you participate in illegal tax dealings, the message is clear: you will be caught and we will take a hard line. We have the tools, techniques and resources to track down those who are doing the wrong thing. Those who abuse the system do so to the detriment of the Australian community and this is something we will not tolerate.

    Our combined local and global efforts are reducing tax evasion in the Australian tax system and further afield. Our international partners are getting similar results as part of an increased effort to tackle tax crime globally, with hundreds of people investigated and prosecuted. For those who choose to ignore the warnings, it’s clear the risks of getting caught are becoming higher.

    In recent years over 2,500 exchanges of information have occurred enabling us to raise additional tax liabilities of $1 billion.

    If you think you might have been involved in illegal dealings, we encourage you to come forward sooner rather than later. Making a voluntary disclosure can lead to reductions in penalties and interest, particularly if it is made before we notify you of an audit.

    Find out how we're closing the net on offshore tax evasion.

    Media releases

    See also:

    Last modified: 24 Aug 2020QC 41324