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Australia's Project Wickenby Shows Increased Results

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

While Australia’s Taxation Ombudsman, John McMillan, confirmed that the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) had established appropriate procedures for exercising its “access without notice” powers, a report on Project Wickenby to end-2009 showed the monetary results from its compliance programme.

The ATO has wide-ranging powers to enter a business or private premises without the owner’s permission to examine and copy documents, relevant to an investigation, that deal with income, indirect, pay-as-you-go, fringe benefits and energy–related taxes and superannuation.

McMillan made a random audit in 2009 that included observing a coordinated, simultaneous multi–site 'access without notice' visit in several states. He said it was right and proper that the ATO used its 'access without notice' powers only in exceptional circumstances, but that it had a genuine belief that documents might be destroyed if notice was given, a well–founded concern that fraud or evasion was occurring.

“The ATO takes the use of its access without notice powers seriously and has established a set of sound guidelines and manuals to assist its staff to apply the powers,” he added.

The latest figures issued by the ATO on the results from Project Wickenby, the multi-agency compliance program that targets a range of tax avoidance schemes, show the extent of its action. It is disclosed that, in the four-year period of Project Wickenby to end-December 2009, the ATO made 66 access visits with notice and 73 access visits without notice. In addition, it issued 2,026 notices to “furnish information” and 1,014 notices of tax assessment.

The ATO further stated that taxpayers who have been the subject of Project Wickenby interventions have voluntarily lodged more accurate tax returns and/or have lodged returns where previously they may not have done so. To November 30, 2009, it confirmed that AUD299m (USD265m) of revenue was collected as a result of this increased compliance.

In addition, since the launch in July 2007 of the Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Initiative, where taxpayers are offered the chance to disclose undeclared foreign income in return for low or no penalties provided they do so before they are contacted by the ATO, it has identified omitted income of almost AUD355m and raised AUD69m in liabilities from over 3,500 disclosures.

Overall, as at December 31, 2009, Project Wickenby had collected AUD465m, with total tax liabilities raised of almost AUD533m. It was reported that Project Wickenby has already exceeded its targets, and expects further monies to be collected over the coming months.

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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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