ATO’s Tax Amnesty – They offer an “Invitation to come in from the cold”
Last month we reported that the ATO had announced its “Project DO IT” – an amnesty for taxpayers with offshore assets or income to voluntarily come clean by 19 December 2014.
Greg Williams, Deputy Commissioner, Serious Non-Compliance, says that: “Sometimes people commit tax crime inadvertently.”
“It may be as a result of inheriting unreported offshore accounts from relatives; it may be they have become involved without fully understanding that their arrangement is illegal; or it may simply be that they trusted people who gave them bad advice.”
That, he says, is why the ATO wants to help these types of taxpayers fix their tax affairs and has announced the Project DO IT initiative*.
That said, taxpayers who are eligible to enter the program should seek advice – depending on the circumstances and the sums involved, possibly even consult a tax barrister.
The reason we say this is that the ATO is not, in fact, making an offer to taxpayers for them to accept. In truth, the shoe is very much on the other foot.
Taxpayers are encouraged to come forward, but it is the ATO who will decide whether they accept any advance or not. We are concerned that this may leave some taxpayers stranded with nowhere to go after baring their soul to the taxman.