On 6 March 2015 the ATO announced that it is leading two taskforces to combat expanding threats from phoenix businesses and the misuse of trust structures. These are the newly prescribed Phoenix and Trust Taskforces: ATO media release (6 March 2015).
Agencies involved in the fight against tax crime now have extended information sharing powers.
Recent figures show that phoenix activity costs the Australian economy $3.2 billion each year.
Set up just over eighteen months ago to examine taxpayers using trust structures to avoid or evade taxes, the Trust Taskforce has already raised $350 million in liabilities and $61.8 million in collections.
As of 31 January 2015, the taskforce has finalised 21 audits and 397 reviews. Seven cases involving 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 Trust Taskforce is expected to raise $415 million in liabilities and $165 million in collections by the end of 2016. It comprises the ATO, Australian Federal Police (AFP), Australian Crime Commission (ACC), Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions, Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC), Australian Government Solicitor (AGS), Attorney-General's Department (AGD), AUSTRAC, Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), Australian Business Register (ABR) and Australian Prudential Regulation Authority.
The Phoenix Taskforce is made up of the ATO, ASIC, AFP, ACC, ABR, the Fair Work Ombudsman, Fair Work Building and Construction, the Department of Environment, the Department of Employment, the Department of Immigration and Border Protection and the New South Wales and Victorian Offices of State Revenue.