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  • » Bullion Baron: Australia's Bullion GST Fraud Still Under Wraps

#26 2016-12-05 06:01:11

whinfell
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Re: Bullion Baron: Australia's Bullion GST Fraud Still Under Wraps

House wrote:

Would be a little bit more concerned about the $4bn in Centrelink overpayments and scams.

Ah yes - the solution to overpayment of welfare claims caused by a 30-year old legacy IT system is to replace it with a system called WPIT, described as one of "the most complex projects ever attempted within Australia's public service."  What could possibly go wrong? lol

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#27 2016-12-05 07:37:25

Bullion Baron
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Re: Bullion Baron: Australia's Bullion GST Fraud Still Under Wraps

I have said it before, but watch your exposure when placing bullion orders and not taking immediate delivery. A number of Australian gold companies are related or there may be exposure through money owed if ATO sinks some of the operating refineries by holding back GST credits as described in the article, could spark a chain reaction/dominoes.

Do not risk any more value in a single non-delivered order than you are prepared to lose in a worst case scenario.

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#28 2016-12-05 07:43:57

Ipv6Ready
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Re: Bullion Baron: Australia's Bullion GST Fraud Still Under Wraps

Or pay by credit card


WTB 4 to 6 grams of pure gold. Don't care if it is coin, bar or granules. Near spot, suits anyone who has been tempted to open a certicard or just have some granules to make a ring

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#29 2016-12-05 08:28:36

Mbutler
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Re: Bullion Baron: Australia's Bullion GST Fraud Still Under Wraps

PayPal with PB makes cheap easy insurance as well.

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#30 2016-12-05 08:29:59

Ipv6Ready
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Re: Bullion Baron: Australia's Bullion GST Fraud Still Under Wraps

Surely some fire sales coming in the near future


WTB 4 to 6 grams of pure gold. Don't care if it is coin, bar or granules. Near spot, suits anyone who has been tempted to open a certicard or just have some granules to make a ring

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#31 2016-12-09 03:42:00

whinfell
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Re: Bullion Baron: Australia's Bullion GST Fraud Still Under Wraps

Another article from Robert Gottleibsen about the ATO and bullion GST fraud:

The ATO should halt its attack on gold refiners

The great gold tax fraud is gradually moving closer to where it needs to go — the Federal Court and the Administrative Appeals Tribunal.

But I am afraid by the time the courts get the chance to make a ruling on the Australian Taxation Office's actions it will have used its draconian small business powers to stop or delay refunding GST that has been paid by refiners to suppliers in order to shut down most of the industry. Up to a thousand people could lose their jobs, with Sydney the hardest hit city.

The only major gold refiner left standing will be the Australian Government's Perth mint.

I don't think he will listen but I make an appeal to Tax Commissioner Chris Jordan to stop bankrupting our gold refining industry until the courts decide on whether the way he is using his incredible GST powers to destroy an industry is legal and whether the gold refining industry was a participant in the great gold fraud which may have cost Australia around $500m. I set out some of the issues last week (The bungles that forged Australia's biggest tax fraud, December 5).

The ATO is using its powers to act as investigator, prosecutor, judge, jury and appeal court to destroy the industry. The ATO may be right (but there is a strong case that they are wrong) and the refiners may be guilty of participating in a massive fraud but, by the time the Australian court system gets the chance to decide their guilt or innocence, the ATO hangmen would have strung up most of the industry.

It goes against Australia's justice system and underlines why fundamental changes are required in the tax act before the Turnbull government promotes innovation and small business.

Full article: http://www.theaustralian.com.au/busines … dd8ba413fb

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#32 2016-12-09 07:54:12

SpacePete
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Re: Bullion Baron: Australia's Bullion GST Fraud Still Under Wraps

From the above story:

The only major gold refiner left standing will be the Australian Government's Perth mint.

The ATO is using its powers to act as investigator, prosecutor, judge, jury and appeal court to destroy the industry. The ATO may be right (but there is a strong case that they are wrong) and the refiners may be guilty of participating in a massive fraud but, by the time the Australian court system gets the chance to decide their guilt or innocence, the ATO hangmen would have strung up most of the industry.

The ATO is intent on shutting down the industry, whether as a side-effect of idiotic righteous taxation zeal or due to some more purposeful intent. We'll probably never know the true reasons, but better to err on the side of overzealous stupidity. The actions of the ATO may even be illegal according to GST lawyers, and this could get expensive, but in the meantime the industry will be destroyed and many people will lose their jobs:

Australia's top GST lawyers believe the retrospective GST assessments are illegal and, if the industry is virtually destroyed, it will trigger Australia's greatest ever tax damages action, involving claims for several billion dollars. The tax-focused legal industry is thirsting for the action.

http://www.theaustralian.com.au/busines … 3a81eb475b


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#33 2016-12-09 19:22:50

SilverDJ
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Re: Bullion Baron: Australia's Bullion GST Fraud Still Under Wraps

These articles are behind paywalls, anyone got a direct link?

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#34 2016-12-09 19:35:27

graebo
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Re: Bullion Baron: Australia's Bullion GST Fraud Still Under Wraps

SilverDJ wrote:

These articles are behind paywalls, anyone got a direct link?

If you access the articles by clicking on the link in Google results, the paywall doesn't block you.  So just search for the article title in google, and usually the first result is the article in question.

The titles for each article are:

"the bungles that forged australias biggest tax fraud"
and
"the ato should halt its attack on gold refiners"

Note: for future reference, the titles are in the URL's.

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#35 2016-12-10 01:49:13

SpacePete
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Re: Bullion Baron: Australia's Bullion GST Fraud Still Under Wraps

SilverDJ wrote:

These articles are behind paywalls, anyone got a direct link?

Here's some more snippets:

As readers will know, I began looking hard at the Australian Taxation Office to try and show the Australian Tax Commissioner that he has a deep anti-small business cultural problem (Retooling tax is part of the shift required to foster jobs growth, November 30).

Out of those efforts came the ATO fictitious legal opinion and the ATO's back down in the Douglass case (Chris Jordan's last shot at righting a wayward ATO, November 29). But the gold refining crisis I have discovered has implications that go way beyond the small business cultural crisis.

Given the depth of the gold crisis, I believe the relevant government ministers need to become immediately involved. I will suggest possible actions at the end if this commentary.

The gold fraud and its aftermath is one where everyone is partly responsible for leaving the nation open to huge losses — treasurers and finance ministers since 2003; taxation commissioners since 2003 and the gold refiners since about 2010.

Clearly the ATO blames the gold refining industry for the major fraud and believes it is justified in taking retrospective GST actions.

...

The terrible saga starts when former Treasurer Peter Costello introduced the GST into Australia in 2000. One of the problems he faced was deciding how gold should be handled given that the yellow metal in pure gold bars was in fact currency.

Costello followed the UK laws and declared that when people trade pure gold bars there should be no GST but, if they trade a gold bar that has been cut in half or in which there are impurities that must be refined out, then there must be a GST payable on the transaction.

In 2000, Australia felt very content with the London system because gold was being treated in a similar way to food.

And, so, if a person bought pure gold bars they would pay no GST but if they bought half a bar or there were impurities in the gold there must be GST on the transaction. But then the UK discovered its system was vulnerable to fraud.

In 2003, Londoners suffered big losses because unscrupulous dealers sold refiners impure gold for a price that included VAT (our GST equivalent).

The UK refiners claimed back the VAT when they removed the impurities. The people who sold the UK refiners the impure gold were supposed to pass VAT onto the tax authorities. But they were crooks and disappeared without trace with the UK government's VAT in their pockets.

Londoners in 2003 changed their VAT rules and have since made even tighter regulations so that these days it's rare for VAT to be charged on impure gold bought for refining and sold as an investment. VAT is normally charged only when it's used for jewellery and industrial purchases.

Incredibly, while we based our GST on the flawed London system, Australia did not follow the 2003 or later UK changes. After 2003 we were sitting ducks to be scammed. But for a while nothing happened.

But in around 2010 and 2011, the volume of gold being refined in Australia went through the roof — rising 10 or 20 fold.

...

Regularly, tax auditors would come to the premises of refiners but nothing happened and the refiners kept buying impure gold for a price that was boosted by the GST. I emphasise that there were many genuine people who paid the GST back to the government but rouge traders bought a lot of the gold.

Clearly the tax auditors were not finding material that would enable them to take the refiners to court — an ominous sign for the looming multi-billion court damages cases.

The ATO believe the refiners must have known that they were dealing with crooks; that it is possible that there were kickbacks in some cases (although the auditors did not pick them up); and in some cases the gold was 99 per cent refined so hardly heeded extra treatment … the ATO list of alleged industry sins is long. But the issues have not been tested in the courts.

...

Every single person in the tax office must have known that if they continued to retrospectively impose GST they would bankrupt the refiners because they could not pay and could not trade.

...

In my view, the courts that should decide whether the refiners are innocent or guilty. The absence of proper court hearings to determine guilt or innocence, while sending them broke as 'punishment' and causing thousands to lose their jobs for unproven offences, is not the Australian way.

...

We need to quickly get people from the auditor general's office to decide on whether the ATO actions are appropriate in these circumstances.

Meanwhile, vast amounts of impure Australian gold are now being refined in Singapore and the crooks have found a way to bypass the Australian refiners and keep the fraud going. And they happily keep pocketing the GST.


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#36 2016-12-26 20:14:22

SilverDJ
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Re: Bullion Baron: Australia's Bullion GST Fraud Still Under Wraps

It's back in the headlines:
http://www.theaustralian.com.au/nationa … e0f25cf35e

The tax office has 30 employees devoted to the taskforce investigating the gold fraud.

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#37 2016-12-26 21:00:03

SpacePete
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Re: Bullion Baron: Australia's Bullion GST Fraud Still Under Wraps

SilverDJ wrote:

It's back in the headlines:
http://www.theaustralian.com.au/nationa … e0f25cf35e

The tax office has 30 employees devoted to the taskforce investigating the gold fraud.

Paywalled. Some interesting bits below, and note especially "The tax office is considering making changes to the GST treatment of gold to try to stamp out the practice".

... tax officials have referred one brief of evidence to commonwealth prosecutors, who are considering criminal charges, while another case is being investigated by the Serious Financial Crime Taskforce.

Industry sources say it is "extraordinary" that no charges have been laid as the fraud has grown exponentially in the past three years, and have criticised the ATO for punishing legitimate operators being caught up in the crackdown.

... Jewellers and pawnbrokers are also understood to be involved in the scam activity that authorities appear powerless to stop.

... the ATO said it had recovered just $55m of the $610m in GST fraud identified since 2013, with another $318m currently in litigation. About $200m of this is in dispute with a company in liquidation that has links to the Sydney based ABC refinery, one of the country's largest private companies

... The tax office has 30 employees devoted to the taskforce investigating the gold fraud.

... In recent evidence to a Senate estimates hearing, tax commissioner Chris Jordan said ... "it was difficult to detect those who 'play the rules'. Part of the problem is you have legitimate jewellers and you have legitimate refiners carrying on a legitimate business," under questioning from Nationals senator John Williams.

The tax office is considering making changes to the GST treatment of gold to try to stamp out the practice, following similar changes made in Britain to stop similar fraudulent practices there.


The comments are interesting ("The New Libs are more left wing than Hawke" LOL!):

Paul 1 HOUR AGO
Wrong. It hasn't cost taxpayers a cent of "revenue". It means that those who live on others' taxes will have fewer taxes to live on.

Phil 2 HOURS AGO
If you write rubbish laws then you get people finding the holes in it.

These people are simply avoiding returning GST to the ATO.

Compliance enforcement is a basic ATO function, it's not rocket science.

The real underlying issue here is the same as Turnbulls attack on the $100 note , they are after the black or cash economy to bolster the tax take. They will use this almost "fake news" story to justify adding GST to gold bullion thus closing the door for you and I to have an alternative place to secure some savings outside of the greedy mits of the government.

They are into your your super and soon they will taking your nest egg ass well.

The New Libs are more left wing than Hawke.

Jan 3 HOURS AGO
And thousands of ATO staffers are doing what…?

Anne 3 HOURS AGO
Reading the latest legislation and trying to understand it just like the rest of us.

Donald 9 HOURS AGO
This is as much about stupid government rules and their unintended consequences as it is about anything else. People are clever, when government creates such anomalies people will be quick to take advantage. Typical of the whole Australian tax system, too complicated, too high rates and too little thought.

Last edited by SpacePete (2016-12-26 21:12:14)


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#38 2016-12-26 21:06:56

SpacePete
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Re: Bullion Baron: Australia's Bullion GST Fraud Still Under Wraps

"Part of the problem is you have legitimate jewellers and you have legitimate refiners carrying on a legitimate business" ~ Tax Commissioner Chris Jordan.

What a terrible problem for the ATO!


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#39 2016-12-26 21:07:34

ozcopper
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Re: Bullion Baron: Australia's Bullion GST Fraud Still Under Wraps


I will be away from the forum from Sunday 9th - Saturday 15th April.

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#40 2016-12-27 01:51:52

SilverDJ
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Re: Bullion Baron: Australia's Bullion GST Fraud Still Under Wraps

Because pure gold is treated as currency it cannot be sold with the addition of GST.

There is one thing I don't get here. How could the Perth Mint and RMA continue to produce bullion coins that have a legal tender value?
If they bought in GST on gold (and silver) bullion, then surely they would have to discontinue all legal tender coin sales?
Otherwise there would be a double standard on regular legal tender notes and coins, and gold and silver coins?

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#41 2016-12-27 18:09:46

whinfell
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Re: Bullion Baron: Australia's Bullion GST Fraud Still Under Wraps

And another article today "Fool's gold payoff in bullion dollar scam" - http://www.theaustralian.com.au/nationa … 6c4a401615 (paywalled)

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#42 2016-12-27 18:29:05

SpacePete
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Re: Bullion Baron: Australia's Bullion GST Fraud Still Under Wraps

whinfell wrote:

And another article today "Fool's gold payoff in bullion dollar scam" - http://www.theaustralian.com.au/nationa … 6c4a401615 (paywalled)

Some of the new details are crazy! Korean students, a professional magician, and a bankrupt property developer!!

Twice a week, three Korean students would put in a regular order — $6 million in pure gold bullion from the Australian Bullion Company in Sydney.

Every Tuesday and Thursday, the 20-something students would buy the gold and a Sydney man, a professional magician who had authority over the accounts, would collect the stamped bars from ABC, one of Australia's largest bullion dealers.

The first stop for the students' gold was a red brick house in Ashfield in Sydney's inner west, rented by a former property developer and bankrupt whom The Australian has chosen not to name.

Last edited by SpacePete (2016-12-27 20:05:57)


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#43 2016-12-27 18:29:59

SpacePete
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Re: Bullion Baron: Australia's Bullion GST Fraud Still Under Wraps

How did any of that not raise immediate suspicions??? FFS.


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#44 2016-12-27 18:32:03

Ipv6Ready
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Re: Bullion Baron: Australia's Bullion GST Fraud Still Under Wraps

SilverDJ wrote:

Because pure gold is treated as currency it cannot be sold with the addition of GST.

There is one thing I don't get here. How could the Perth Mint and RMA continue to produce bullion coins that have a legal tender value?
If they bought in GST on gold (and silver) bullion, then surely they would have to discontinue all legal tender coin sales?
Otherwise there would be a double standard on regular legal tender notes and coins, and gold and silver coins?


Some forms of 999 or 9999 gold such as rings and granules etc all attract gst.


WTB 4 to 6 grams of pure gold. Don't care if it is coin, bar or granules. Near spot, suits anyone who has been tempted to open a certicard or just have some granules to make a ring

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#45 2016-12-27 19:56:14

SilverDJ
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Re: Bullion Baron: Australia's Bullion GST Fraud Still Under Wraps

SpacePete wrote:

How did any of that not raise immediate suspicions??? FFS.

Surely ABC would have had to report those transaction under the AUSTRAC requirements? Not to mention finding out everything about the people involved.
I was just anally probed by my foreign currency account  provider under the AUSTRAC excuse "getting to know your customer", they wanted to know everything about me, and everything about everyone involved with my company even though they were not operating or authorised to use the currency account.

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#46 2016-12-27 20:05:32

SpacePete
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Re: Bullion Baron: Australia's Bullion GST Fraud Still Under Wraps

SilverDJ wrote:
SpacePete wrote:

How did any of that not raise immediate suspicions??? FFS.

Surely ABC would have had to report those transaction under the AUSTRAC requirements? Not to mention finding out everything about the people involved.
I was just anally probed by my foreign currency account  provider under the AUSTRAC excuse "getting to know your customer", they wanted to know everything about me, and everything about everyone involved with my company even though they were not operating or authorised to use the currency account.

Exactly!! Twice a week 3 Korean students are placing orders for $6 million in gold. The reports most definitely would have been raised with AUSTRAC.

WTF WAS AUSTRAC DOING??!?

Then there is the magician with control of the accounts who would wander in and collect the gold bars. Its so fishy that there'd be more red flags raised than at a North Korean mass celebration.

And of course a bankrupt property developer was involved somehow. No surprises there.


___

Last edited by SpacePete (2016-12-27 20:07:10)


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#47 2017-01-18 21:57:11

Bullion Baron
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Re: Bullion Baron: Australia's Bullion GST Fraud Still Under Wraps

The date was Friday December 9, 2016. A significant but smaller Australian gold refiner declared it had had enough and gave all its staff six weeks notice in preparation for closing the plant and all operations on January 20. The Australian Taxation Office had won.

Every other gold refiner knew that refinery closure would soon be followed by a string of others as the tax office moved to close down the Australian industry and put one thousand people out of work.

Only the government-owned Perth mint would be left. But then two days before Christmas an amazing event took place — the ATO at least partially changed course. Not in their wildest dreams did any gold refiner expect the Australian Tax Commissioner would overturn 13 years of mistaken policy to give the industry a chance to survive.

Gold refiners were told that on a voluntary basis they would now be allowed to buy gold with high purity but which was not stamped as investment grade without paying GST — that way the crooks are to be thwarted.

http://www.theaustralian.com.au/busines … 3b0e581879

Do a google search for "Tax office in stunning U-turn on gold tax fraud" and click from there to access the full article.

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#48 2017-01-18 23:44:52

SilverDJ
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Re: Bullion Baron: Australia's Bullion GST Fraud Still Under Wraps

Bullion Baron wrote:

http://www.theaustralian.com.au/busines … 3b0e581879

Do a google search for "Tax office in stunning U-turn on gold tax fraud" and click from there to access the full article.

For article:

The date was Friday December 9, 2016. A significant but smaller Australian gold refiner declared it had had enough and gave all its staff six weeks notice in preparation for closing the plant and all operations on January 20. The Australian Taxation Office had won.

Every other gold refiner knew that refinery closure would soon be followed by a string of others as the tax office moved to close down the Australian industry and put one thousand people out of work.

Only the government-owned Perth mint would be left. But then two days before Christmas an amazing event took place — the ATO at least partially changed course. Not in their wildest dreams did any gold refiner expect the Australian Tax Commissioner would overturn 13 years of mistaken policy to give the industry a chance to survive.

The issue was complex. ATO believes the refiners played a role in Australia's biggest tax fraud. In my view that allegation must be decided by the courts. Unfortunately before the courts could decide the refiners' guilt or innocence, elements in the ATO were using all the weapons at their disposal to force total closure of the industry.

Refiners must pay GST when they buy gold that is not investment grade but the ATO was freezing GST refunds to refiners by asking hundreds of questions, so draining their working capital. The ATO also lodged huge backdated bills that refiners had no hope of paying. Banks were suddenly becoming jittery. The ATO plan appeared to be to starve the refiners of working capital and when those retrenchment notices were sent out the industry's fate seemed sealed.

But two commentaries I wrote suddenly made those at the top of the ATO fully aware of what was going on.

MORE: The great Australian gold fraud
MORE: The ATO should stay its hand
MORE: Gold scam a $610m taxpayer hit
Clearly those commentaries had a huge impact but, even so, on Friday, December 23, the refiners were still stunned because Australian Tax Commissioner Chris Jordan had turned full circle. There was no consultation. The ATO backdown to enable the industry to survive came without warning.

To understand how the backdown worked and how Australia's biggest tax fraud was engineered you have to go back to Peter Costello's GST introduction in 2000 when Australia copied the UK system of imposing GST on non-investment grade gold bought by refiners, but no GST on investment grade gold in bars.

Three years later in 2003 the UK was taken to the cleaners because crooks sold non-investment grade gold to refiners for the price of gold plus VAT (our GST). The crooks then pocketed the VAT, rather than giving it to the government, and disappeared. London quickly changed the rules in 2003 but successive Australian treasurers and tax commissioners did nothing. Accordingly we were sitting ducks for a repeat of the British tax frauds so it was no surprise that eventually we were taken to the cleaners.

The long overdue Australian pre-Christmas 2016 ATO measures were similar to the 2003 London measures.

Gold refiners were told that on a voluntary basis they would now be allowed to buy gold with high purity but which was not stamped as investment grade without paying GST — that way the crooks are to be thwarted.

The refiners were shocked but delighted. They did not believe it possible the ATO would change tack because as late as three years ago when the refiners could see that the rate of fraud appeared to be rising they believed the ATO was set to suffer big losses. And so the refiners put to the tax office a proposal that mirrored what the ATO agreed to do on December 23, 2016. But the tax office rejected the plan in writing. That crazy rejection cost Australian taxpayers up to $600 million and almost caused the Australian gold refining industry to be shut down. As the refiners saw the fraud taking place they began reporting suspect transactions to Australia's financial intelligence agency — AUSTRAC. The ATO believes that the refiners have been paying GST on gold that did not need refining and so were part of the fraud. The Jordan move allows refiners to buy gold that is not investment grade and bring to investment grade without paying GST on the purchase.

There is still a problem because the ATO has limited knowledge of the refining industry and their latest moves will not work without further amendment and legislative change. Indeed without further changes the Lebanese and other gangs who are currently conducting the fraud will be able to get around the pre-Christmas measures by using Singapore refineries. But it is a good start and the refinery that was set to close on January 20 has withdrawn the retrenchment notices and will stay open.

But the ATO is still playing hard ball by refusing to pay big GST refunds that the refiners believe they are entitled to.

What an agonising decision it must have been for tax commissioner Chris Jordan to adopt the refining industry's three-year old solution after the ATO had rejected that solution three years ago.

If the taxation commissioner proceeds with the court cases to try and put blame on the refineries Jordan will have to explain to the judge how the refineries could be guilty given they warned the commissioner in writing that fraud was taking place; gave the ATO a solution which they rejected and reported the suspect transactions to AUSTRAC.

He will have to admit that as a result of not taking the industry's advice, the ATO must take at least a part of the blame for the $600 million fraud.

Meanwhile on December 27 — four days after the big switch — the Australian Tax Commissioner, commenting in the Australian newspaper, was good enough to confirm my commentaries disclosing that there had been an enormous fraud. But he corrected me — whereas I said the fraud involved $500 million he increased the figure to $610 million.

But there is another part of the story. The tax commissioner would not be in this sort of mess if he made the Inspector-General of Taxation the binding appeal avenue for tax matters.

The existing appeal system, although it recruits outsiders too often, becomes just another an arm of the taxation office. And so in gold refining a legally qualified tax executive gave an opinion which at best was controversial and at worst wrong. He then allowed himself to chair the internal tax appeal body that endorsed his opinion.

Had the inspector-general body conducted that review with binding powers the review would have called in gold experts from around the world to test the opinion and the validity of the ATO actions.

Prime Minster Malcolm Turnbull and Treasurer Scott Morrison can't allow this chaos to continue.

We have seen the dramatic admission that fictitious legal reports were used to try and bankrupt Roy Douglass, the hero of Port Hedland productivity improvements. Jordan withdrew when the court case opened.

It makes a mockery of the government's attempts to promote innovation.

As I have written previously the answer is simple-----make the inspector-general of tax the binding appeal body. It not only ends the chaos in tax but it is the right thing to do.

Given the experiences of Douglass and gold plus more events in the pipeline the tax commissioner should make it easy for Morrison and Turnbull by advocating the change.

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#49 2017-01-18 23:50:25

SpacePete
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Re: Bullion Baron: Australia's Bullion GST Fraud Still Under Wraps

What on Earth is happening????


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#50 2017-01-19 04:57:45

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Registered: 2009-06-29
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Re: Bullion Baron: Australia's Bullion GST Fraud Still Under Wraps

Voluntary Reverse Charge commercial agreements will likely be insisted upon within the refining industry, and will necessitate that upstream suppliers enter into similar agreements with their B2B suppliers.

https://www.ato.gov.au/Business/GST/In- … -industry/

The ATO held industry workshops this week in Melbourne, and there is one in Sydney tomorrow.

Basically this should eliminate the "missing trader" scam, but may cause cash flow issues for businesses that buy from the public - unless they lower their buyback prices. So the crazy days of 107% of spot for scrap should be gone.

Yet to see how exporters of scrap will be affected.


My posts on Silver Stackers are either personal opinion or acting in the capacity of site administrator. Opinions offered do not constitute professional or financial advice.

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