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ATO sends tax time warning

Aussies secretly attempting “asset wash sales” to get their tax returns will be plagued with a range of fines, the Australian tax authorities have warned.

Laundry sales is a form of tax avoidance that the ATO says it will use “advanced data analytics” to detect as millions of Australians are ready to file their tax claims.

The plan typically involves the sale of assets such as: cryptocurrencies and shares just before the end of the financial year, and buy back the same or similar assets after a short period of time.
The ATO warned taxpayers engaged in the sale of laundry that they will face swift, stiff penalties.
The ATO warned taxpayers engaged in the sale of laundry that they will face swift, stiff penalties. (Delivered)

This method of tax avoidance creates a loss that must be offset against a profit.

Assistant Commissioner Tim Loh said some tax accountants are actively helping clients wash assets in this way.

“Don’t hang yourself to dry by taking part in a laundry sale,” Loh said, explaining the various taxes, interest, and penalties that anyone can face.

“Most tax advisers do the right thing, but a small number encourage this behavior,” he said, warning of “serious consequences” for violators.

Some accountants have been accused of encouraging and promoting asset wash. (iStock)

A wash sale differs from the normal asset purchase and sale in that it is done with the artificial purpose of generating a tax benefit for the current fiscal year.

If implemented, the taxpayer may realize a capital gains loss and obtain an unfair tax advantage.

Using powerful analytics tools, the ATO said it can identify wash sales through access to data from stock registers and crypto asset exchanges.

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