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Tuesday, 17 March 1987
Page: 989

(Question No. 4701)

Mr Tickner asked the Treasurer, upon notice, on 7 October 1986:

What is the estimate of unrecouped revenue lost through tax fraud or evasion in each year since 1980-81.

Mr Keating —The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

The most recent official estimate of revenue forgone through tax evasion was $3,250 million published in the 1985 Draft White Paper on Reform of the Australian Taxation System (p. 37).

The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) has done some analysis in this area and plans to do much more. Comparisons have been made between National Accounts data and taxation returns, and these have been supplemented by information derived from specific projects using the results of completed audits and statistical sampling techniques. However, the ATO is not in a position to give a more accurate estimate of the overall cash economy, nor therefore the extent of tax revenue lost through evasion on a year by year basis.

The Government has, of course, taken several measures to tackle the problem of tax evasion. These include a series of major increases in the compliance staff of the ATO and a major overhaul of tax penalties as well as the Government's comprehensive reforms to the Australian tax system. Action has been taken in each of the six specific areas of evasion detailed in the White Paper including the new substantiation requirements, the fringe benefits tax and the decision to proceed with the introduction of the Australia Card.