Maintaining the cross-agency approach to preventing abuse of secrecy jurisdictions (Project Wickenby) and other tax compliance measures
The Government will continue its fight against the use of secrecy jurisdictions by people to avoid paying tax, by providing $76.8 million in additional funding to the agencies involved in the Project Wickenby cross‑agency taskforce until 30 June 2015.
Project Wickenby was established in 2006 to protect the integrity of Australia's financial and regulatory systems by preventing people from promoting or participating in the abusive use of tax systems to avoid tax in Australia.
The taskforce includes the Australian Taxation Office (ATO), the Australian Crime Commission, the Australian Federal Police, the Australian Securities and Investments Commission, the
Attorney‑General's Department, the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions, and the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre.
"Since its establishment, Project Wickenby has had a positive effect in reducing international tax avoidance and evasion. This additional funding of $76.8 million will allow for the completion of existing project work and transition the work to 'business as usual' activity," the Assistant Treasurer said.
"This is about ensuring the integrity of our tax system for the benefit of all Australians."
Part of the funding will allow an independent and external review of Project Wickenby to be conducted with input from all relevant agencies at the end of 2013-14. Further details about this review will be released in due course.
In addition, the Government has agreed to two other measures that will improve tax compliance:
Managing debt in challenging times
The Government will provide additional funding to the ATO to reduce the existing stock of outstanding taxation debts and superannuation guarantee charge and to support a more differentiated approach to debt collection in the future.
Specifically, this funding will allow the ATO to support a greater range of taxpayers in meeting their reporting and payment obligations which can impact on the viability of various businesses and small businesses in particular.
"In the current economic climate, it is critical that the ATO keeps taxpayers engaged in the tax system and supports them in meeting their payment obligations through early intervention," the Assistant Treasurer said.
GST compliance measure
The Government will extend by a further two years the 2010-11 Budget measure to fund additional GST compliance activities to promote voluntary compliance and provide a level playing field for Australian businesses, subject to the agreement of the States and Territories.
"Fraudulent GST refunds, systematic under-reporting of GST liabilities, failure to lodge GST returns and outstanding GST debts have the potential to undermine community confidence in the integrity of the tax system," the Assistant Treasurer said.
Boosting GST compliance activity benefits the States and Territories who receive the extra GST revenue collected as well as resulting in an increase in non-GST taxation receipts.
8 May 2012