Can the ATO access my banking records?an the ATO access my banking records?

Can the ATO access my banking records? They sure can!

Can the ATO access my banking records? They sure can!

The ATO has provided notice via ComLaw that they are requesting account details of bank customers in an attempt to identify Australian taxpayers who may have assets and / or income overseas that has not been declared in their Australian taxes.  You can access the notice here.

The immediate focus for the requested information is on the periods covering the 2012 through to 2015 tax years.

Which bank(s)?

At this time the following banks will be asked to provide details of their customers –

  • Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Limited (“ANZ”)
  • Bank of China (Australia) Limited
  • Bank of China Limited
  • Credit Suisse AG
  • Deutsche Bank Aktiengessellschaft
  • HSBC Bank Australia Limited
  • Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation Limited
  • Investec Bank (Australia) Limited
  • Macquarie Bank Limited
  • Rabobank Australia Limited
  • Rabobank Nederland
  • UBS AG
  • Citibank, N.A.
  • Citigroup Pty Limited

(Did you just have a sigh of relief when you didn’t see your bank (they are the primary ones people use who have multinational financial affairs)?  Well just because your bank isn’t currently on this list please don’t think you and your affairs can’t fall onto the ATO’s radar.  The ATO undertake many programs to obtain information and while your bank may not be part of this particular one, it doesn’t mean they haven’t previously been asked to provide information nor that they won’t in the future!)

What will they do with the data obtained?

The information they obtain from the banks will be electronically matched with various data already held by the ATO in an attempt to identify any non-compliance.
The program is called the Banking Transparency Strategy and the ATO advise its objectives are to:

  • Assist the ATO to build an understanding of taxpayer behaviour in international dealings, develop compliance profiles and improve fraud detection models
  • Identify taxpayers who are not reporting all of their income
  • Identify Australian resident taxpayers who may be outside the tax system
  • Increase transparency of the worldwide dealings of Australian resident taxpayers
  • Help to develop and implement administrative strategies to improve voluntary compliance through education, audit, lodgement enforcement and debt collection activities
  • Promote voluntary compliance and strengthen community confidence in the integrity of the tax system.

Remember your obligations

We take this opportunity once again to remind all our Clients that as an Australian resident taxpayer you are require to disclose all income you earn (or have some entitlement to whether directly or indirectly) from anywhere in the world.  Equally even if you do not earn income on them, if you have or control (directly or indirectly) assets outside of Australia you are generally required to disclose their existence in your tax return (even if there is no tax to currently pay in relation to them).

The ATO have been operating “Project DO IT: Disclose offshore income today” since March this year whereby taxpayers have been asked to come forward and voluntarily disclose unreported foreign income and assets in exchange for a number of benefits including avoiding steep penalties and the risk of criminal prosecution for tax avoidance.  You can learn more about Project DO IT here.

We strongly encourage all those who may have undisclosed foreign income or affairs to come speak to us now, so that we may advise you of your specific obligations and formulate a strategy for taking advantage of the ATOs offer while you still can!  So please call on 9228 7100 to arrange a time to catch up.

Need to know about your Tax Return lodgement obligations?

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