Nassim Kadem reports in today’s Australian Financial Review that recently appointed Commissioner Chris Jordan has mooted a new amnesty for disclosure of hidden offshore assets and income. A Tax Office official has confirmed the proposal and apparently, Treasurer Joe Hockey has indicated support for the idea.
The amnesty would cap the retrospective tax and penalty period to four years, making it relatively attractive for Australian taxpayers wanting to come clean and avoid later criminal prosecution and unlimited back taxes. It would be particularly attractive to second and third generation members of wealthy families who have “inherited” the problem of secret offshore caches.
Accountants who believe their client may benefit from such an amnesty will need to remember that only lawyers have legal professional privilege. One approach may be to introduce their client to a trusted lawyer who can “receive” the disclosure and In turn engage the accountant to gather and compile the financial data needed to effect the report to the Tax Office.
If confirmed, the new amnesty could overcome the now high risk of tax haven authorities and banks releasing long held data under the ever increasing number of bilateral exchange of information treaties.