Australia targets crypto-currencies in major tax crackdown

Source: Xinhua| 2019-06-07 14:39:43|Editor: Xiaoxia
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CANBERRA, June 7 (Xinhua) -- Australia's tax collector said that it will crackdown on tax evasion via crypto-currency.

Will Day, the deputy commissioner of the Australian Taxation Office (ATO), told Fairfax Media that tax evaders face a "greater risk of being caught" than ever before after authorities from Australia, the United States, Britain, the Netherlands and Canada established the Joint Chiefs of Global Tax Enforcement (J5) in 2018.

Since J5 was formed, tax authorities from the five nations have shared more data between them than they did in the previous 10 years combined.

It has allowed authorities to close in on criminals who exploit differences between national tax laws for their own benefit.

Day said that criminals are increasingly using crypto-currencies to avoid detection and launder money, saying that tax evasion via digital currency was "not a victimless crime".

"We're seeing the use of crypto-currencies in ways that we haven't seen before," Day said.

"At the Australian level, there is definitely legitimate use for investment in crypto-currencies, but we're also seeing the use of them to facilitate tax crimes," Day said.

Members of the J5 are currently undertaking 60 joint investigations, with the ATO directly involved 12. At least one investigation involves a "global financial institution" that has allegedly helped customers hide assets and income details.

"At no other time have criminals been at greater risk of being caught," Day said.

"In Australia, they are often intermediaries who are playing a role between the tax evader and an offshore entity," Day said.

According to data released by the ATO in July 2018, there was an 8.7 billion Australian dollar (6.06 billion U.S. dollar) gap between the amount of tax that individuals should have paid in financial year 2014-15 and what was actually paid.