Rich Aussies Pay $430 Million in Unpaid Taxes, Penalties in 2013

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By Vittorio Hernandez | January 28, 2014 10:46 AM EST

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Because of a strict campaign to collect unpaid taxes and penalties for 2013, the Australian government's coffer is richer by $430 million. The contributors are mainly the richest Australians, including racing celebrity Sean Buckley, art dealer John Ioannou and businessmen Bob Jane and Geoffrey Edelsten.

The Sydney Morning Herald reports that the four Aussies together got tax bills totalling over $21 million.

Some of the wealthy targets of the Australian Taxation Office's (ATO) efforts criticised the initiative for allegedly handpicking them and called the agency the Gestapo's financial equivalent.

Michael Cranston, deputy commissioner of ATO, disclosed that agency usually recovers $10 for every $1 spent, which led to its expansion via regular funding hikes.

Mr Cranston stressed, quoted by The Sydney Morning Herald, that "If the broader population sees that we make sure that the rich - who can really afford to pay taxes - pay, then it's fairer for them and they are more willing to pay their taxes too."

To run after wealthy Aussies, the ATO operates dedicated compliance programmes for rich Aussies. The programmes have 500 workers and use sophisticated data-matching systems to assess tax and financial records to determine who gets audited.

The programme has monitored over 2,600 Aussies with assets valued at over $30 million. ATO collected from them almost $300 million last year. Since the programme begun in 1996, ATO has collected over $2.8 billion unpaid taxes and fines.

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