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ATO Offers Update On Taskforces

Friday, March 13, 2015

Set up just over eighteen months ago to examine taxpayers using trust structures to avoid or evade taxes, the Australian Tax Office's Trust Taskforce has reportedly already raised AUD350m (USD267.6m) in liabilities and AUD61.8m in collections.

The Taskforce comprises Australia's main law enforcement bodies and regulators, and its members have recently received new information sharing powers. Acting Deputy Commissioner Will Day said: "Information sharing makes it quicker and easier to identify and prosecute law-breakers by giving us a more complete profile of the individuals, businesses, and tax advisers [that] are at a higher risk of committing financial crime."

According to the ATO's latest figures, as of January 31, 2015, the Taskforce had finalized 21 audits and 397 reviews. Seven cases involving the serious exploitation of trusts have been escalated for possible law enforcement action and two taxpayers are currently before the courts on serious criminal charges in relation to Trust Taskforce-related matters.

The Taskforce is expected to raise AUD415m in liabilities and AUD165m in collections by the end of 2016.

Day said: "Although it has been up and running for over a year, the decision to prescribe the Taskforce means we can now share tax-related intelligence and data with more agencies. We know that most businesses and families who have trust arrangements in place use them legitimately and are doing the right thing. The Trust Taskforce is cracking down on those exploiting trusts to conceal their interests, mischaracterize transactions, and artificially deal with trust income to avoid paying their fair share of tax."

The ATO also heads up a Phoenix Taskforce, which has also been prescribed. Pheonix activity – where assets from an indebted company are transferred to a new company without the payment of existing debts – is estimated to cost the Australian economy AUD3.2bn a year.

Day said: "Businesses are not being paid for the products and services they supply and employees of phoenix operators are losing up to AUD655m in unpaid wages and entitlements such as [superannuation]. The work being done by the Phoenix Taskforce makes it harder for dishonest business operators to get away with closing down their businesses, escaping their taxes, and other creditors and then emerging with a similar business."

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The Report

Offshore Trusts Guide: Introduction

The History of Offshore Trusts
Development of Professional Competence in the Jurisdictions
What Future for the Trust?
The New Age of Transparency
The Swiss Association of Trust Companies
The Society of Trusts and Estates Practitioners

Offshore Trusts Guide: Jurisdictions

Bahamas

Bahamas: Legal Framework and Formation Rules and Fees
Bahamas: 2006 Private Trust Companies Legislation

Barbados

Barbados: Legal Framework and Formation Rules and Fees
Barbados: Supervisory and Licensing Regime and Fees

Bermuda

Bermuda: Legal Framework and Formation Rules and Fees
Bermuda: Supervisory and Licensing Regime and Fees

British Virgin Islands

British Virgin Islands: Legal Framework and Formation Rules and Fees
British Virgin Islands: Special Trusts Act 2003
British Virgin Islands: The Trustee Act 2003
British Virgin Islands: :Supervisory and Licensing Regime and Fees
British Virgin Islands: New Laws on Private Trust Companies
British Virgin Islands: New Private Trust Company Regulations

Cayman Islands

Cayman Islands: Legal Framework and Formation Rules and Fees
Cayman Islands: Supervisory and Licensing Regime and Fees

Cook Islands

Cook Islands: Legal Framework and Formation Rules and Fees
Cook Islands: Supervisory and Licensing Regime and Fees

Cyprus

Cyprus: Legal Framework and Formation Rules and Fees
Cyprus: Supervision, Licensing and Tax

Gibraltar

Gibraltar: Legal Framework and Formation Rules and Fees
Gibraltar: Legislation, Regulation and Supervision

Guernsey

Guernsey: Legal Framework and Formation Rules and Fees
Guernsey: Trusts Law 2007

Isle of Man

Isle of Man: Legal Framework and Formation Rules and Fees
Isle of Man: Supervisory and Licensing Regime
Isle of Man: Uses Clients and Tax Treatment

Jersey

Jersey: Legal Framework and Formation Rules and Fees
Jersey: Supervisory and Licensing Regime
Jersey: Trusts Amendment Act 2006
Jersey: Foundations

Liechtenstein

Liechtenstein: Legal Framework and Formation Rules and Fees
Liechtenstein: Regulation Supervision and Transparency
Liechtenstein: Characteristics of Liechtenstein Trusts
Liechtenstein: Foundations

Madeira

Madeira: Legal Framework and Formation Rules and Fees

Malta

Malta: Legal Framework and Formation Rules and Fees
Malta: The Trust and Trustees Act 2004

Mauritius

Mauritius: Legal Framework and Formation Rules and Fees
Mauritius: Characteristics of the 2001 Trusts Act
Mauritius: Additional Provisions of the 2001 Trusts Act
Mauritius: Tax Treatment

Monaco

Monaco: Legal Framework and Formation Rules and Fees

Nevis

Nevis: Legal Framework and Formation Rules and Fees

Panama

Panama: Legal Framework and Formation Rules and Fees
Panama: Requirements for Acting as Trust Company in Panama

Seychelles

Seychelles: Legal Framework and Formation Rules and Fees

Turks & Caicos

Turks & Caicos: Legal Framework and Formation Rules and Fees
Turks & Caicos: The Voidable Dispositions Ordinance

Vanuatu

Vanuatu Legal Framework and Formation Rules and Fees




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