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On 21 August 2014, The Tax Institute held an event centred upon the ATO’s current offshore voluntary disclosure initiative, Project DO IT (Disclose Offshore Income Today). The presenters for the event were:

  • Adrian Abbott CTA (Crowe Horwath)
  • Michael Cranston, Deputy Commissioner (ATO)
  • Tom Lickess ATI (Deloitte)
  • Jeff McAlister, Assistant Commissioner (ATO)
  • Ken Schurgott CTA-Life (Schurgott Noolan Ardagna Lawyers).

Delegates who attended the event had an opportunity to gain a better understanding of why the ATO were undertaking this offshore disclosure initiative. Delegates had direct access to two senior ATO officers and Tax Institute members expert in this area.

Michael’s presentation provided an overview of Project DO IT and outlined why taxpayers with undisclosed income or assets should come forward under this initiative. Michael emphasised the changing international tax environment and how the ATO was increasing its collaboration with international agencies to deal with tax evasion.

Tom's paper focused on the mechanics of the Project and raised important issues such as  foreign exchange gains and losses, treatment of tax losses, options in the event of limited information and the requirement of a true and correct disclosure.

Ken's paper concentrated on the settlement deed and structuring for bringing offshore funds/entities onshore. The examples of a company structure with uncrystallised gains and a foreign trust with accumulated untaxed earnings provided food for thought. Ken highlighted the technical issues of onshoring.

The Q & A session focused on

  • the four year disclosure period,- the exclusion of taxpayers who are persons of interest,
  • the no names expressions of interest,
  • disclosure of the offshore structure -- companies and trusts,
  • the onshoring of entities and assets,
  • disclosure of advisors- the  settlement deed, 

As a result of the open discussion the ATO plan to run a workshop to better understand some of the different types of offshore structures through which assets are held offshore and will then be providing additional guidance in response to the queries raised.

For members keen to find out more, Tom Lickess and Jeff McAlister will be presenting a webinar to be held on Tuesday 28 October 2014. Find out more about the Tax Amnesty – Project DO IT Webinar or Register for the webinar. (Can’t make that date? Register now and receive the recording the day after the event to watch whenever you need it.)