A recent statement by the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) shows that their visibility of offshore accounts, including Australian expat bank accounts, is incredibly high and that now, more than ever, it is imperative that Australian expats manage their financial affairs taking into account these new global initiatives.
Since the introduction of the Common Reporting Standard (CRS), which commenced on the 1st of July 2017, the ATO has received information relating to over 1.6 million bank accounts overseas that hold over AUD$100 billion. This includes information on account holders, balances, interest and dividend payments, proceeds from the sale of assets, and other income.
The ATO stated that they have shared financial account information with over 65 countries around the world and made special mention of countries like the United Kingdom, China, the United States and Switzerland to name a few.
We have seen a rapid shift in compliance by the global tax authorities in recent years thanks to the sharing of data and with the existing data sets already obtained via exchange of information agreements with foreign tax authorities it is imperative that Australian expats manage their financial affairs with this new regime in mind.
Whether that is determining if you qualify as a non-resident for tax purposes, managing your assets (including your Australian expat bank accounts) in a manner that is not only cognisant of your current tax status but possibly your eventual return to Australia, or any other issue, Australian expats live in a world now that is very small from a financial perspective.
To date there are 157 members of the Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information for Tax Purposes so if you are an Australian expat living overseas and think that you can operate your financial affairs with no regard to these changes then you maybe sorely mistaken.