Tax office targets lawyers’ privileges

Original article by Michael Roddan
The Australian – Page: 7 : 22-Jul-19

The Australian Taxation Office is hoping a new industry code of conduct that is being developed with the Law Council of Australia and other professional bodies will lead to improved auditing of multinationals. The ATO is finding it difficult to conduct such audits because lawyers are making blanket claims that documents being sought are subject to legal privilege. ATO second commissioner Jeremy Hirschhorn says law firms have no interest in seeing privilege claims that turn out to be false, as this could put the concept of privilege at risk.

CORPORATES
AUSTRALIAN TAXATION OFFICE, LAW COUNCIL OF AUSTRALIA, COMMOTION SYSTEMS, COMMONWEALTH BANK OF AUSTRALIA – ASX CBA

Tax office wins fight over GST on scrap gold

Original article by Nick Evans
The Australian – Page: 23 : 5-Jul-19

The Australian Taxation Office has secured an important legal victory in its ongoing battle to withhold tax credits that were allegedly wrongfully claimed under a GST gold swindle. Deputy commissioner Jeremy Geale says the significance of its latest win in the Administrative Appeals Tribunal is that it was against a gold refiner, whereas the previous wins have been against gold dealers or scrap merchants. It is claimed that the swindle has cost federal Treasury over $1 billion.

CORPORATES
AUSTRALIAN TAXATION OFFICE, AUSTRALIA. ADMINISTRATIVE APPEALS TRIBUNAL, AUSTRALIA. DEPT OF THE TREASURY

Legal privilege claims in 20pc of ATO multinational cases

Original article by Tim Pallas
The Australian Financial Review – Page: 10 : 27-Jun-19

The Australian Taxation Office has revealed that its push to crack down on tax avoidance by multinationals is being stymied by excessive claims that requested documents are protected by legal professional privilege. Deputy commissioner Mark Konza says that of the 122 audits of large multinationals that the ATO is currently undertaking, 24 companies have sought a blanket claim for legal professional privilege. This includes about 19,000 documents in one instance.

CORPORATES
AUSTRALIAN TAXATION OFFICE

ATO plugs up cash-in-hand payments leak

Original article by Tom McIlroy
The Australian Financial Review – Page: 8 : 19-Jun-19

The Australian Taxation Office has signalled that it will crack down on companies that make cash-in-hand payments to their employees. Assistant commissioner Peter Holt says that from 1 July, payments to workers will only be tax deductible if they comply with pay-as-you-go withholding and reporting requirements. The crackdown is in response to recommendations made by the federal government’s Black Economy Taskforce, which has estimated that the cash economy is worth up to $50bn a year.

CORPORATES
AUSTRALIAN TAXATION OFFICE

Legislation needed to stop tax office overreach

Original article by Robert Gottliebsen
The Australian – Page: 25 : 22-May-19

There was bipartisan political support for the proposed independent small business tax tribunal ahead of the 2019 federal election. The lawyer-free tribunal was intended to address the toxic culture at the Australian Taxation Office with regard to its treatment of small businesses, but the ATO’s abuse of small businesses appears to be continuing. The newly re-elected Coalition government must take all necessary action to ensure that there is much-needed cultural change at the ATO.

CORPORATES
AUSTRALIAN TAXATION OFFICE, AUSTRALIA. OFFICE OF THE AUSTRALIAN SMALL BUSINESS AND FAMILY ENTERPRISE OMBUDSMAN, AUSTRALIA. ADMINISTRATIVE APPEALS TRIBUNAL

Tax Office to ramp up audits of landlords

Original article by Joanna Mather
The Australian Financial Review – Page: 9 : 18-Apr-19

The Australian Taxation Office has signalled that it will audit about 4,500 taxpayers who claim deductions for rental properties in 2018-19. The ATO undertook 1,500 such audits in 2017-18, after random sampling of tax returns showed that 90 per cent of claims for rental deductions contained errors. Assistant commissioner Gavin Siebert says the ATO uses data analytics and information from a range of third-party sources in its audits. It imposed penalties totalling $1.3m for incorrect rental deductions in 2017-18.

CORPORATES
AUSTRALIAN TAXATION OFFICE

White Collar wipeout

Original article by Robert Gottliebsen
The Australian – Page: 27 : 17-Apr-19

Media reports have suggested that the Commonwealth Bank and ANZ are looking to retrench up to 25 per cent of their staff. Rival banks will also need to reduce wage costs in order to remain competitive. Meanwhile, new technologies such as artificial intelligence and block chain will result in much bigger job cuts over the next decade, and in a wide range of sectors. The public service offers the greatest potential for major staff cuts, but unions will resist any such move. With fewer job opportunities in the future, more Australians will need to start their own business; in this context, the federal government’s move to establish a small business tax tribunal that is independent of the Australian Taxation Office is to be welcomed.

CORPORATES
COMMONWEALTH BANK OF AUSTRALIA – ASX CBA, AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND BANKING GROUP LIMITED – ASX ANZ, AUSTRALIAN TAXATION OFFICE, WESTPAC BANKING CORPORATION – ASX WBC, AUSTRALIA. DEPT OF THE PRIME MINISTER AND CABINET, ACTU

Cash economy investigation reaps $2.7b from builders

Original article by Tom McIlroy
The Australian Financial Review – Page: 11 : 13-Feb-19

The Australian Taxation Office has used data matching technology to recover some $2.7bn worth of tax revenue associated with payments to contractors and subcontractors in the construction industry. The crackdown on the cash economy has targeted contractors who fail to declare all income or use false Australian Business Numbers to avoid tax liabilities. The crackdown has also targeted businesses such as cleaning and courier firms.

CORPORATES
AUSTRALIAN TAXATION OFFICE

Banks in GST war with ATO

Original article by John Kehoe
The Australian Financial Review – Page: 1 & 2 : 8-Jan-19

The Australian Taxation Office wants to cut the amount of goods and services tax credits that banks and other financial institutions claim for providing home loans, credit cards and transactional accounts. Experts suggest that the ATO’s clampdown could cost each of the big banks between $60 million and $80 million a year, while bank executives acknowledge that it will be very difficult for them to pass on any higher tax costs to customers, given the current poor reputation of the banking sector.

CORPORATES
AUSTRALIAN TAXATION OFFICE, AUSTRALIAN BANKING ASSOCIATION

How ATO is catching more fraudsters

Original article by Tom McIlroy
The Australian Financial Review – Page: 10 : 11-Dec-18

The Australian Taxation Office has joined forces with its peers in the US, Canada, the UK and the Netherlands to establish the Joint Chiefs of Global Tax Enforcement group. The five tax authorities will co-operate in combating activities such as tax fraud, organised crime and money-laundering. Assistant tax commissioner Peter Vujanic says the ATO’s data-matching and analytical capabilities means there is now a much higher probability that tax-related crimes will be detected, regardless of their level of sophistication.

CORPORATES
AUSTRALIAN TAXATION OFFICE, UNITED STATES. INTERNAL REVENUE SERVICE, GREAT BRITAIN. HM REVENUE AND CUSTOMS, CANADA. REVENUE AGENCY, NETHERLANDS. FISCAL INFORMATION AND INVESTIGATION SERVICE, AUSTRALIAN FEDERAL POLICE, AUSTRALIA. ATTORNEY-GENERAL’S DEPT. AUSTRALIAN TRANSACTION REPORTS AND ANALYSIS CENTRE, AUSTRALIAN CRIME COMMISSION, AUSTRALIAN BORDER FORCE