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Tax Avoidance Taskforce – Trusts: what we do

Last updated 7 August 2023

How the Tax Avoidance Taskforce – Trusts continues the work of the Trusts Taskforce.

We target higher risk trust arrangements in privately owned and wealthy groups. These are not ordinary trust arrangements or tax planning associated with genuine business or family dealings.

We recognise that most trusts are used appropriately. We will continue to help those who make genuine mistakes or are uncertain about how the law applies to their circumstances.

We have trust risk rules in place to identify higher risk compliance issues. Most trusts do not trigger these risk rules.

Our priorities are to:

  • undertake focused compliance activity on privately owned and wealthy groups involved in tax avoidance and evasion arrangements using trust structures
  • target known tax scheme designers, promoters, individuals and businesses who participate in such arrangements
  • lead cross-agency action to pursue the most serious cases of tax abuse using trusts
  • undertake projects to gather intelligence on and deal with specific risks.

We aim to build community confidence and encourage voluntary compliance. We do this by reporting on our activities in relation to trusts and undertaking education projects to improve voluntary compliance.

We focus on the following risks:

  • lodgment of trust tax returns
  • complex distributions
  • trust and taxable income mismatches
  • unidentified beneficiaries
  • cross border and international risks
  • avoidance and evasion.

Agencies involved

As well as the ATO, the Tax Avoidance Taskforce – Trusts works closely with the following agencies: