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Tax havens


Tax havens are countries, regions or states that have minimal or low tax for non-residents and they do not divulge information about an individual's financial or banking affairs or structures to foreign tax authorities.

Tax havens may be exploited to conceal income and evade tax because they do not have effective information exchange arrangements with Australia.

Reporting suspicious funds transfers

Reporting entities must remain alert to suspicious customer behaviours that may indicate illicit activity, including attempts to evade tax or commit other tax offences.

This may include customers undertaking multiple international funds transfers to or from known secrecy jurisdictions, particularly if there is no apparent business rationale for the transfers.

Where they observe suspicious customer behaviours, entities should consider whether to submit a suspicious matter report to AUSTRAC.

Project Wickenby

AUSTRAC supports the fight against tax evasion by contributing its financial intelligence and expertise to Project Wickenby.

Led by the ATO, Project Wickenby is a multi-agency task force established to prevent Australians from promoting and participating in the abusive use of secrecy jurisdictions.

More information

ATO initiative – Project DO IT: disclose offshore income today

Project DO IT is a voluntary tax compliance initiative that allows taxpayers to voluntarily disclose previously unreported foreign income and assets.

The ATO urges taxpayers with offshore assets to declare their interests ahead of a global crackdown on people using international tax havens.

Taxpayers must come forward by 19 December 2014 to take advantage of Project DO IT.

The initiative covers amounts not reported or incorrectly reported in tax returns, including:

  • foreign income or a transaction with an offshore structure
  • deductions relating to foreign income that have been claimed incorrectly
  • capital gains in respect of foreign assets or Australian assets transferred offshore
  • income from an offshore entity that is taxable in a taxpayer's hands.

Obligations for reporting entities

Reporting entities must be aware that Project DO IT does not provide any exemptions from the obligations of the Financial Transaction Reports Act 1988, Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing Act 2006, Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing Rules or Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing Regulations 2008.

This means entities must continue to comply with their AML/CTF obligations for any customer transactions related to the disclosure of offshore income under Project DO IT. This includes undertaking appropriate customer identification, customer due diligence, reporting and record keeping measures.

AUSTRAC expects reporting entities to be alert to suspicious transactions or behaviour and report such matters to AUSTRAC within the required time frames.

See the AUSTRAC compliance guide for more information about reporting suspicious matters to AUSTRAC.

More information about Project DO IT is available on the ATO website.

Last modified: 17/08/2015 10:39