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ATO cracks down on Aussies holding millions offshore

Aussies are holding billions offshore. Source: Getty

It turns out Paradise Papers aren’t just for billion-dollar companies.

The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) has revealed some individual Australians hold more than $100 billion offshore, spread across more than 1.6 million accounts.

The tax man has been tracking money across borders as part of new international data sharing agreements.

The data shows Aussies have financial dealings across China, the UK, Switzerland, Singapore and the US – but they’re failing to report that cash to the ATO.

“Whether it is rental income from your old family home, an untouched bank account earning interest, or salary from working offshore, it must be reported,” ATO assistant commissioner, Karen Foat said.

“Even if you have paid tax on the overseas income it must be reported to the ATO, however you may be able to claim a foreign income tax offset to account for any foreign tax paid.”

I’m not sure if I have money overseas. Should I be concerned?

According to Foat, Aussies that deliberately move cash overseas in an attempt to hide it should be worried.

“Hiding your assets and income offshore is pointless,” she said.

“‘Tax havens’ are becoming a less effective model as international agreements improve transparency. You can no longer hide money behind borders.”

According to The Guardian, the ATO has already sent around 2,000 letters to Australians who it has identified as having failed to declare $20 million in income held offshore.

Around 370,000 taxpayers have so far been identified as holding offshore accounts, and there could be more to come.

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