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ATO to be told of tax cheats

The names of almost 2,000 possible tax cheats have been handed to the Australian Taxation Office (ATO).

Under a global campaign to stop people using overseas credit cards to pay for extravagant, tax-free lifestyles, 1,800 names have been given to the ATO in a list from another country.

One New Zealander caught in the crackdown hid $20 million in an offshore account before retiring 10 years ago to live on tax-free income in Australia, Fairfax newspapers reported.

The man used a no-name credit card issued by a tax-haven bank and has never paid a tax return.

"People think of Australia as a great place to live or retire, but they aren't keen to pay the tax that keeps the place running," said Mark Konza, a deputy tax commissioner.

"There were taxpayers who believed that offshore accounts were the ticket to nirvana, to a tax-free world."

Australia's top tax havens are the Channel Island and the Caribbean as well as Switzerland and Hong Kong, the paper said.

The names were provided by a member of the seven-country Working Group on Tax Havens during a bank and broker investigation.

SMH July 18, 2006


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