Global tax group meets in Sydney over evasion

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Ashlea Witoslawski
(Australian Associated Press)

 

The leaders of five international tax organisations gathering in Sydney have warned perpetrators of global taxation crime that their days “are numbered”.

The Joint Chiefs of Global Tax Enforcement – known as the J5 – met in Manly this week to affirm their goals and priorities for 2020.

The group was formed in 2018 out of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development task force on tax crime and has been working to share information in the fight against international tax crimes and money laundering.

Australian Taxation Office deputy commissioner Will Day – who is Australia’s J5 chief – says working closely with his counterparts from the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada and the Netherlands provides insights into common risks and threats.

“Together we are all better equipped in the fight against those who commit, promote and enable international tax crimes,” Mr Day said on Wednesday.

“We are continuing to tighten the net on those who break tax laws and ensure they face the consequences of their actions.

“The message is clear – there is no way to hide and it is only a matter of time.”

Simon York, the director of Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs fraud investigation service in the UK, says sharing financial information, registers and data leaks has made hiding wealth offshore increasingly difficult.

It’s also meant tax crimes have become more complex.

“What this work shows is that tax evaders and organised criminals are resorting to ever more complex and obscure methods to hide their illicit gains and wealth,” he told reporters.

“Our challenge is to detect that and investigate it and to counter these increasingly complex arrangements.”

IRS criminal investigation chief Don Fort from the US says cybercrime is a major focus for the group moving forward particularly with the rise of cryptocurrency.

“The J5 really exists to put global tax cheats in jail and when we do operations together we’re speaking directly to the criminals,” he said on Wednesday.

“We’re watching, your days are numbered and you should feel that pressure of the world shrinking around you.”

The J5 in January uncovered suspected tax evasion and efforts to hide taxable within a Central American financial institution.

Mr Day reiterated the group is currently looking at 14 Australian taxpayers who may be involved but the number could extend into the hundreds, with some potentially unaware of their involvement.

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