Since 1 July this year, a new Serious Financial Crime Taskforce has been operating to ensure that Commonwealth financial crimes are disrupted and deterred.
The Taskforce is led by the Australian Federal Police, and also includes:
Australian Crime Commission;
the Attorney-General’s Department;
Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions; and
the Australian Border Force.
The Taskforce will work closely with international partner agencies, governments and organisations around the world and will initially concentrate on international tax evasion and criminality related to trusts and ‘phoenix activity’ (when companies deliberately and repeatedly liquidate to avoid paying creditors, employee entitlements and taxes).
The ATO has advised that it will be visiting restaurants, cafés and take-aways in Box Hill (Melbourne) over the coming months as part of its ongoing Australia-wide program involving the café and restaurant industry.
Assistant Commissioner Michael Hardy said similar visits in Sydney and Adelaide with over 500 cafés had been well-received, with businesses keen to meet with the ATO to better understand their obligations, as well as learn about available help and support.
“Where taxpayers are unwilling to work with us or continue to cause us concern, we will undertake further investigation. In Sydney, for example, we have now moved to auditing businesses that did not want to work with us.”
The ATO has announced that it has undertaken its first ever automatic sharing of bank information with the United States (US) Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
Details of over 30,000 financial accounts worth over $5 billion are being provided to the US.
The information provided on US citizens and tax residents with Australian bank accounts is the first step in transparency measures being implemented globally by Governments and tax administrations.
Beginning in 2017, close to 100 countries will be sharing non-resident data under the OECD Common Reporting Standard.
In return, the ATO will receive data from the IRS about Australians with financial accounts in the US, and will use that data to detect cases of undeclared offshore income and tax evasion.
The ATO has announced that it will acquire online selling data relating to between 15,000 and 25,000 individuals who sold goods and services of $10,000 or more on eBay between 1 July 2014 to 30 June 2015.
Data will be sought from eBay Australia and New Zealand Pty Ltd, a subsidiary of eBay International AG which owns and operates www.ebay.com.au.
The data requested will include information that enables the ATO to match online selling accounts to a taxpayer, including name, address and contact information, as well as information on the number and value of transactions processed for each online selling account.
These records will be electronically matched with certain sections of ATO data holdings to identify non-compliance with registration, lodgment, reporting and payment obligations under taxation laws.
We see an opportunity for all clients, particularly those over 55 to get advice in relation to transition to retirement strategies.
In many cases these are both tax effective and also boost superannuation amounts in retirement with little to no change in your net income.
We recommend all of our clients seek further advice from us in relation to the tax implications of this, or discuss with their financial planner or we can recommend one.
The following article discusses transition to retirement in further detail. There may be tax changes in this area in the near future, so it would be advisable to take advantage of this before any legislative changes occur.
Access your super the smart tax way:
If you’ve reached your super ‘preservation age’ (currently 55 but rising to 60), you can take some of your existing super as an income stream to help make your transition to retirement a smooth one. This is called a transition to retirement (TtR) strategy. And it can be very tax effective.
You can continue to work and contribute towards your super using tax-effective salary sacrifice contributions.
You can top up your income with a tax-effective income stream from your retirement account (between 4% and up to 10% of the account balance can be drawn each year).
And there’s even a way to ‘refresh’ your TtR strategy every year for potentially even more tax benefits.
Any advice contained in this document is of a general nature only and does not take into account the objectives, financial situation or needs of any particular person. Before making any decision, you should consider the appropriateness of the advice with regard to those matters and seek independent taxation and financial advice.