If you are charged with having committed a criminal tax offence, proceedings against you can be initiated by the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) or the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions (CDPP).
In Australia, the tax system is a self-assessment environment, and it relies on taxpayers acting honestly in fulfilling their tax obligations. The Commissioner of Taxation has the power to ensure compliance with the tax laws, and is able to apply penalties including administrative penalties and prosecutions.
In serious cases, taxpayers can be prosecuted for offences involving fraudulent conduct under the Commonwealth Criminal Code 1995. Tax fraud encompasses a range of frauds, including GST fraud and Business Activity Statement fraud.
The ATO takes tax fraud offences very seriously and successful prosecution will usually result in a serious fine at the very least, and in cases of serious or repeated offending, imprisonment.
The law provides for a range of taxation offences, such as:
When the ATO or CDPP decide to prosecute, they consider a number of different aspects, including the seriousness of the offence, the circumstances of the taxpayer, and whether or not the prosecution could act as a deterrent to the wider community.
If you are dealt with in court for a tax offence, you have rights to appeal any conviction, as well as any penalty. Such appeals must be lodged promptly, in accordance with strict time limits prescribed by law (usually within one month).
You should consult an experienced criminal lawyer urgently if you wish to appeal a taxation conviction or penalty imposed by a court.