I believe strongly that having a common vision or goal to strive for makes the difference between a good organisation and a great one. The ATO recently shared its vision with the community: that Australians value their tax and superannuation systems as community assets, where willing participation is recognised as good citizenship.
We believe that the vast majority of Australians are willing to fulfil their obligations to the community. They realise that the contribution they make through taxes helps support a myriad of public goods and services such as education, health and infrastructure. However, they also expect others to pay their fair share under the law. They expect us to protect them from being disadvantaged by those who don't comply with their civic and legal responsibilities.
We recognise that our vision is an ambitious one, a far horizon for some. However, more and more people in the community recognise that a good tax system is a mark of a civilised society and that where someone doesn't pay their fair share, the burden falls to others in the community.
In many ways Australia stands in stark contrast with the position of some countries where non-compliance with revenue laws breeds a distrust of government, where poor infrastructure inhibits economic growth, where many do not have access to quality education or health services, and where many of the rights we take for granted in this country are not available to all citizens.
The ATO is fortunate in that it is able to work with other law enforcement agencies such as the AFP and the Australian Crime Commission to protect Australia against tax crime.
In the global economy in which we operate, tax crime such as the abusive use of secrecy havens, is an international issue. In recognition of this, the international community has pushed for Tax Information Exchange Agreements (TIEAs). Since the last edition of this magazine Australia has signed agreements with a further 16 countries, bringing the total number of agreements to 25 and another 11 are in progress. These agreements will all be undergoing peer review to ensure the conditions are being met by both countries. These agreements make it much more difficult for people to hide their money overseas for the purposes of avoiding tax.
I hope you find the content of this magazine both interesting and informative and most importantly, that you feel, as a taxpayer, we are supporting and protecting you by bringing to account those that improperly seek an unfair advantage.
Commissioner of Taxation
Targeting tax crime: a whole-of-government approach is achieved in co-operative partnership between the Australian Taxation Office, the Australian Crime CommissionExternal Link, the Australian Federal PoliceExternal Link, the Australian Securities and Investments CommissionExternal Link, the Commonwealth Director of Public ProsecutionsExternal Link, the Australian Transaction Report and Analysis CentreExternal Link and the Australian Government SolicitorExternal Link.