Taxman may name and shame wealthy tax dodgers

Should the taxman name and shame the wealthy who use tax havens? Assistant Treasurer Chris Bowen thinks so.

Should the taxman name and shame the wealthy who use tax havens? Assistant Treasurer Chris Bowen thinks so.

Last night he told ABC television program Four Corners that he would be very interested to hear if the tax commissioner wanted to name Australian clients of Liechtenstein’s LGT Group. In the next month, the tax office will issue assessments seeking $60 million from wealthy clients of the LGT Group. Four Corners also claimed that the tax office expected to reap $100 million after receiving stolen bank documents, but has so far recovered only $4.5 million.

LGT is in the spotlight because of the actions of former LGT employee Heinrich Kieber who started tax probes in 11 countries after he stole the details of 1400 LGT clients.

Westfield founder Frank Lowy and his son Peter were accused by the US senate sub-committee looking into tax havens of hiding $68 million from the ATO through a foundation called Luperla.

However Lowy has denied the beneficiaries of the foundation were himself or his three sons. He claims it was set up for flexibility if the need arose to attract investors from other countries.

It is unlikely the tax office will start to name and shame users of tax havens as it feels it is far more valuable to collect outstanding tax revenue through private settlements with wealthy individuals.

However, as Four Corners pointed out last night, that gives rise to concerns that “deals” could be made with wealthy individuals that are not subject to public scrutiny.

And the taxman loses a big deterrent; naming and shaming Australia’s rich who are avoiding their civic duty.

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