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  • Organised crime

    Organised crime is a national security threat that costs Australia up to $47 billion each yearExternal Link. It can involve a range of criminal activities like:

    • illicit drug activity
    • organised fraud
    • money laundering
    • crimes against the person (such as human trafficking).

    These costs affect all Australian governments as well as the economy, businesses and the broader community. Attempts to undermine the tax system can result in less money for essential services like hospitals, schools and roads.

    Tackling organised crime

    Australia has an Organised Crime Strategic Framework which outlines how government agencies will work together to fight organised crime. The ATO is one of those agencies with a shared responsibility under the framework to address the impact of serious and organised crime on Australia. The agencies use their specialised capabilities and expertise together to meet the challenges.

    Our primary role under the framework is to tackle the financial aspects of serious organised crime. We do this by:

    • targeting known business models used to facilitate tax crime such as  
      • complex financial structures to conceal wealth
      • infiltration of legitimate industries by organised criminals
      • phoenix activity
      • refund fraud
      • abuse of off-shore secrecy havens
      • concealment of income off-shore
      • intermediaries promoting the use and abuse of off-shore structures
    • working with state, Commonwealth and international law enforcement partners to share intelligence and coordinate strategies targeted at serious criminal behaviour
    • applying differentiated taxation approaches to the serious and organised crime (SOC) population focused on ensuring the correct amount of tax is paid on all income including profits derived from illegal activity.

    We use sophisticated analytical capabilities to analyse our extensive data holdings to identify any unexplained wealth which we use to undertake audits, raise assessments and apply penalties where appropriate. These data holdings include:

    • property, other asset sales and purchases
    • ASIC information
    • motor vehicle data
    • share transactions
    • bank interest, dividend and AUSTRAC data.

    Our differentiated approaches include:

    • coordinated targeting of organised crime in conjunction with other state and Commonwealth law enforcement agencies
    • demanding outstanding income tax returns and business activity statements
    • pursuing civil debt recovery action against outstanding debt of key individuals, their business entities and family associates
    • undertaking audit activity specifically targeting unexplained wealth but including other taxation obligations such as superannuation and PAYG
    • pursuing criminal investigations against those involved in tax crime
    • asset restraint and forfeiture utilising proceeds of crime actions through the joint agency Criminal Asset Confiscation Taskforce
    • other methods of securing collection such as the issue of Departure Prohibition Notices to restrict movements.

    In addition, we have an increased focus on:

    • working with our international partners to disrupt those who enable crime in the tax and super system from offshore
    • targeting those who use new technologies to commit tax crime such as cyber-crime and cryptocurrency
    • supporting Commonwealth programs such as the Digital Identity FrameworkExternal Link

    See also:

    Last modified: 28 Mar 2019QC 33618