Tuesday, July 29, 2008

LowyGate: Spotlight On The ATO

Australia's Tax Commissioner, Michael D'Ascenzo, turned down a request to appear before the US Senate commission looking into tax havens:
In a letter dated July 15 to Senators Carl Levin and Norm Coleman, D'Ascenzo thanked them for the invitation "to attend and give testimony".

"Unfortunately, a prior commitment in Australia prevents me from attending at this time," he wrote, noting that "the Australian Taxation Office is very supportive of the good work of your subcommittee".
But the ATO is also conspicuously silent on this issue. The Australian arm of Swiss banking giant UBS is still providing offshore banking services, despite its US counterpart banning the practice:
"Our business model is not going to change," a UBS spokeswoman told The Australian.

The spokeswoman said the Australian offshore investment model was different from that of the US because of different reporting requirements, but he was unable to explain further.

Repeated requests for further information from UBS offshore investment experts went unanswered.

According to the Australian Taxation Office, $5 billion flowed from Australia to known tax havens each year, with much of that driven by wealthy individuals.
The ATO says "most" Australians using tax havens are doing so within the law. So it's pretty obvious that we need to change the law! Why isn't Michael D'Ascenzo pressuring Kevin Rudd on this issue?

UPDATE: Interesting that this innocent little blog post has sparked a flurry of interest from .gov.au readers in Canberra. Who says Big Brother is not watching very carefully indeed? Hey guys! You should be watching the look on Frank Lowy's face when his lawyer gets caught out.

See that jugular vein popping out? That's your target, right there. Now go for it - that's why I am paying you guys. To work for me, not them.