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  • International tax crime

    Most offshore dealings are legitimate and comply with Australian laws. But some people try to conceal their assets and income and avoid their tax obligations.

    Australian residents (for tax purposes) are taxed in Australia on their worldwide income.

    In Australia, the ATO-led Serious Financial Crime Taskforce (SFCT) tackles offshore tax evasion. Working together, we apply the full power of our knowledge, resources and experience to track illegal activity and bring financial criminals to justice.

    We also work with governments and organisations around the world to fight tax evasion on a global scale such as through the Joint Chiefs of Global Tax Enforcement (J5).

    The J5 is a strong international alliance that leads the fight against transnational tax crime and money laundering, including cryptocurrency threats and those who undertake, enable or facilitate global tax evasion.

    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 tax professionals, lawyers and financial advisors.

    Where appropriate, we use the Commissioner of Taxation's formal access and information gathering powers to obtain information about their clients. If we see 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 their data is secure and beyond our reach – it is not.

    Consequences of illegal offshore activity

    If you participate in illegal offshore tax evasion, the message is clear: you will be caught and held to account. We have the tools, techniques and resources to uncover even the most elaborate tax evasion schemes.

    Those who abuse the system do so to the detriment of the Australian community and this is something we will not tolerate. A fair tax and super system provides a level playing field for everyone.

    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 evasion 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: 16 Apr 2021QC 41324