The government has also announced new arrangements to increase protection for individuals who disclose information to the ATO on tax avoidance behaviour.
The Taskforce will be led by the Commissioner of Taxation, Chris Jordan, and will employ approximately 1,300 people. This will include 390 new specialised officers, who will form specialist audit and investigation teams, with a particular focus on international tax risks, high-wealth individuals, trusts and tax scheme promotors.
In addition, the government has proposed that a panel of external experts comprised of former judges will be appointed to oversee settlement arrangements and ensure that they are concluded in a fair and appropriate manner.
The Taskforce is expected to raise more than $3.7b between now and July 2020. The work of the Taskforce will be complimented through increased information-sharing with ASIC and AUSTRAC.
The whistleblower rules will take effect from 1 July 2018. Under the new arrangements, individuals – including employees, former employees and advisors – disclosing information to the ATO will be better protected under the law.
It remains to be seen whether the Taskforce will adopt a more adversarial approach to tax compliance and egregious taxpayer behaviour. This would be in contrast with the ATO’s recent trend towards fostering willing participation and active engagement with taxpayers.
We expect considerably more scrutiny on the middle market and the increasing importance of implementing appropriate tax risk management protocols.