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  • Statement on ANAO performance audit: Tax Avoidance Taskforce – Meeting Budget Commitments

    The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) welcomes the release of the Australian National Audit Office’s (ANAO) performance audit: Tax Avoidance Taskforce – Meeting Budget Commitments, which has found that there has been a significant increase in compliance revenue since the commencement of the taskforce.

    While there are some conclusions in the report the ATO feels require additional context in relation to the specific issues raised, the overall finding is that the determination, commitment and passion of the ATO’s workforce has been successful to address corporate tax avoidance.

    The audit focused on whether the Taskforce has been resourced in accordance with Budget estimates. The ANAO expressed a preference for a distinct separation of Taskforce funded positions and case work from existing ATO funded positions and case work.

    The ATO’s view is that it would be counter-productive to set up two organisations doing the same work. Our approach has been to fully integrate taskforce funding into existing ATO programs. This reflects the design of the taskforce to expand upon existing programs and undertake new work programs rather than operate as a distinct, separate program within the ATO. It also provides the flexibility to allocate resources in response to changes in the taxpayer landscape.

    The ATO has carefully considered how to incorporate this large budget measure to deliver the best return on investment to the government and the Australian public. We estimate the taskforce has generated around $7.9 billion in tax liabilities and $4.4 billion in cash collections so far.

    Importantly, the success of the taskforce is prompting large multinationals, public and private groups to proactively manage and prevent tax risks in their business by adopting robust tax governance arrangements through early and open engagement with the ATO.

    The success of the Taskforce is the result of a combined effort across various business areas of the ATO to tackle tax avoidance. This funding has enhanced and extended existing compliance activities targeting large multinationals and high wealth individuals. The collective and integrated approach taken by the ATO is validated by the outstanding success of the initiative.

    We have agreed to some of the ANAO’s recommendations and will further examine their conclusions with the aim of incorporating the suggestions, we believe appropriate, into future improvements to our programs.

    Last modified: 16 Dec 2019QC 60982