Project Do It - A Tax Amnesty in all but Name

Project DO It GREY
3
Apr

Project Do It - A Tax Amnesty in all but Name

03.04.14

The Tax Commissioner has urged all taxpayers with offshore assets to declare their interests ahead of a global crackdown on international tax havens.  Historic "tax havens", including Switzerland and the Cayman Islands were increasing transparency, eliminating previous road blocks to ATO prosecutions and increasing recovery of previously undisclosed income and assets.

 

To encourage taxpayers to come forward the Commissioner has announced a voluntary disclosure initiative known as “Project Do It”.

 

The initiative announced late last week runs until 19 December 2014 and provides a last chance opportunity for those who haven't declared their overseas assets and income to avoid significant penalties (up to 90% of the primary tax) and the risk of criminal prosecution.

 

Should a taxpayer wish to make a voluntary disclosure in respect of offshore assets under the umbrella of Project DO IT, the taxpayer will receive significant benefits, such as:

  • only be assessed for open periods of review (either four or two years) rather than potentially indefinite period available under the law;
  • not be investigated or referred for criminal investigation by the ATO on the basis of their disclosures;
  • be liable for a shortfall penalty of 10% (or minimal /nil penalties for low level disclosures) compared to a potential 90% penalty outside of Project Do It; and
  • be able to enter into a settlement deed as well as seek assurance regarding the ATO's tax treatment of repatriated assets.

 

It should be noted however, that taxpayers will still be liable for full shortfall interest charges and will not be able to utilise any losses that arose in years for which they are not being assessed.  In addition, the concessions will not be available if taxpayers are identified as part of the ATO’s ongoing compliance activities.

 

Should you have any undisclosed offshore assets, Project Do It represents a significant opportunity to address the relevant issues in an effective manner.  Making such a disclosure is an important decision and therefore should be made knowing the full facts and obligations.  Please contact your relevant ESV engagement partner on 9283 1666 to discuss how you should proceed. 

 

Article by David Prichard