Friday, October 22, 2021

Tax Summit – Gould v Jordan - Ransomeware in a Global Context October 2021

KRUISER’S MORNING BRIEF: What If They Gave a Mandate and No Law Enforcement Came? “Tyrants need enforcers and the enforcers are not amused

“We must collect taxes without causing unnecessary burden to citizens. Just as a flower is not hurt when the bee draws nectar from it, so also should the king not disturb the taxpayer when he collects taxes.”.

~ Kautilya (c. 350-275 BCE)

Vanda Gould, who is in prison for perverting the course of justice, had claimed Chris Jordan defamed him at speech at the National Press Club

Jailed accountant Vanda Gould has failed in a defamation lawsuit against the Australian taxation commissioner, Chris Jordan.  In the federal court, Gould, a Sydney-based accountant, had claimed that remarks Jordan made at the National Press Club in 2017 defamed him by painting him as having engaged in the worst kind of money laundering, insider trading and tax fraud.  

On Friday federal court judge Richard White said Jordan’s remarks did defame Gould but the commissioner was entitled to make them because he was responding to attacks on him and the ATO by Gould and a lawyer who worked for companies linked to Gould.

Gould has always denied doing anything wrong in relation to his activities in setting up and helping run offshore structures for his clients, many of which involved an offshore provider featured in the Pandora papers, Asiaciti Trust.

 “They called into public question the methods adopted in the administration and enforcement of the tax laws, the integrity of officers of the ATO, and the culture within the ATO.”

He rejected arguments from Gould’s counsel that the ATO had no reputation to protect because it was an arm of the government.

“In my view, it should be held that Mr Jordan did have the right and interest to respond to the attacks on the ATO,” he said.

“He is the senior taxation officer, with general responsibility for the administration of the taxation legislation.”

White also found that Jordan’s statements carried a broader meaning that Gould was dishonest – an allegation Jordan supportedwith 150 pages of allegations about the accountant’s behaviour.

“However, I note again that this conclusion is of no moment given my finding that Mr Jordan made the impugned statements on an occasion of qualified privilege,” he said.

Tax commissioner Chris Jordan defamed jailed accountant Vanda Gould, but has a ’complete defence’ under the law

Tax commissioner Chris Jordan preparing to address the National Press Club in Canberra in 2017.
Tax commissioner Chris Jordan preparing to address the National Press Club in Canberra in 2017.

Tax commissioner Chris Jordan defamed now-jailed accountant Vanda Gould during a speech to the National Press Club four years ago, but he has a complete defence as a result of “qualified privilege”, a Federal Court judge has found.

Following an investigation by Inspector-General of Taxation and Taxation Ombudsman (IGTO) Karen Payne, the ATO said that many of the recommendations raised by the formal review were in the process of being addressed.

“Effective communication of taxpayer rights is an extremely important aspect of our work,” the ATO said.

ATO to improve comms skills after IGTO review

Last week, Inspector-General of Taxation and Tax Ombudsman (IGTO) Karen Payne handed down six recommendations on how the ATO could more effectively make taxpayers aware of their rights to complain, which have been largely agreed to by the ATO.

Among the recommendations are for the ATO to update the Taxpayers’ Charter to include “an express right to be informed of rights to review, complain and appeal decisions and to be told about all relevant channels to do so”.

Significant investigation’: ATO reforms to create fairer tax system

In his commissioner’s address to the 2021 Tax Institute Tax Summit, Chris Jordan paid tribute to the tireless work carried out by members of the tax profession during an 18-month period of “transformative” change.

“One of the things I have been most proud of during this time is the strong relationship we have with the tax profession, and our shared commitment to supporting the community. You have been vital in helping clients navigate government stimulus measures and changes to the tax system, and we have appreciated everything you have done,” Mr Jordan said.

As you know, MyGovID and Relationship Authorisation Manager already make engaging with us easier. These services were both critical in businesses applying for a range of stimulus measures and allowed clients to work from home and still access our digital services. The next step is ‘Strong myGovID’. It incorporates liveness detection and face verification technology to strengthen myGovID to a higher level. It will also make interacting with the tax system easier by allowing Australians to access higher risk and higher value services online and in real-time, like the online TFN application.”

The ATO is here for you’: Commissioner Chris Jordan reiterates support for tax profession

Tax Commissioners  Chris Jordan says the ATO will use the Pandora Papers to pursue and prosecute any Australians it believes are involved in offshore tax evasion. ... The ATO also stated that there were “a range of legitimate reasons that someone may have for an offshore bank account or structure”.

ATO will use Pandora Papers to chase tax evaders says Commissioner Chris Jordan

… you can imagine Mark Zirnsak's surprise when he was looking through some data released by the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) and found that almost $2.5 million in Australian bank accounts belonged to foreign tax residents apparently from Bouvet Island.

No-one lives on Bouvet Island but there are a dozen Australian bank accounts linked to it

Nearly $34 billion worth of tax was not paid in the year before the pandemic hit with small businesses and individuals responsible for the majority of the missing money.

The Australian Taxation Office estimates there was a 7.3 per cent gap between collected tax and what was expected to be brought in during 2018-19 or about $33.5 billion. This was up from $32 billion the year before.

Missing millions: Tax gap jumped to $33.5 billion ahead of pandemic

The Tax Office has accused iSignthis boss John Karantzis of hiding income in “known secrecy havens” and falsifying his tax affairs while blasting his “intentional disregard” for the law and his attempts to “hinder” a $10 million tax debt recovery.

Last month, the Australian Taxation Office lodged its appeal statement in the Federal Court for the case iSignthis chief executive John Karantzis has brought against his $10 million tax bill for 2015, 2016 and 2017. The ATO also filed 996 pages of supporting evidence.

Lawyerly . Judge extends asset freeze over iSignthis CEO in $10M stoush with ...

Director Identification Numbers Begin from November 2021

The Novels That Really Want To Change The World? Satires

"'Satire ... does not come with some kind of manifesto for a better world. It tells you what's wrong; it doesn't tell you what you should do.' So political satire often sets out to do as much damage as possible, to sweep away." - BBC

BratKeeper: profitable private schools purloin JobKeeper, pandemic payments too

Blessed are the rich, for theirs is the tax from the poor! Elite private schools gorged themselves on JobKeeper despite their profits, on top of Pandemic stimulus payments, and as well as trousering a bigger slice of the federal funding pie

This Pristine Beach Is One of Japan’s Last. Soon It Will Be Filled With Concrete. New York Times 

U.S. Climate-Related Financial Risk Executive Order 14030 A Roadmap to Building a Climate-Resilient Economy, October 14, 2021– 40 page PDF

White House Fact Sheet: “Agency Actions Will Protect Retirement Plans, Homeowners, Consumers, Businesses and Supply Chains, Workers, and the Federal Government from Financial Risks of Climate Change. Today, the Biden-Harris Administration released a comprehensive, government-wide strategyto measure, disclose, manage and mitigate the systemic risks climate change poses to American families, businesses, and the economy – building on actions already taken by the Biden-Harris Administration including just this week: a redesigned National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) site to better connect Americans to climate explainers, data dashboards, and classroom-ready teaching resources; the Department of Labor’s new proposed rule to safeguard life savings and pensions from climate risk; as well as the Federal Acquisition Council’s advanced notice of proposed rulemaking to consider greenhouse gas emissions when making procurement decisions. 

This year alone, extreme weather has upended the U.S. economy and affected one in three Americans. Both international and domestic supply chains have been disrupted by climate change – whether it’s floods in China and Texas, or wildfires that have burned nearly six million acres of land, supply chains across critical industries including housing, construction, semiconductors, and agriculture have been affected, causing delays and shortages for both consumers and businesses. American families are paying the costs. Extreme weather has cost Americans an additional $600 billion in physical and economic damages over the past five years alone. Climate-related risks hidden in workers’ retirement plans have already cost American retirees billions in lost pension dollars. Climate change poses a systemic risk to our economy and our financial system, and we must take decisive action to mitigate its impacts…”

“Welcome to VirusTotal’s first Ransomware Activity Report. This initiative is designed to help researchers, security practitioners and the general public better understand the nature of ransomware attacks by sharing VirusTotal’s visibility. One of the main challenges for defenders is understanding the whole picture. We all have a partial view at best and it has proved difficult to condense and analyze significant and rich data in a single place. This is where VirusTotal comes in. We are in a unique position to provide comprehensive visibility. Over the last 16 years, we have processed more than 2 million files per day across 232 countries. VirusTotal also harnesses the continuous contribution of its community of users to provide relevant context. We use this crowdsourced intelligence to analyze relevant data, share an understanding of how attacks develop, and help inform how they might evolve in the future.

This report is the first step in what we hope will become an ongoing community effort to discover and share actionable information on malware trends…Since 2020, users from more than 140 countries have submitted ransomware samples to VirusTotal. During this time, at least 130 different ransomware families have been active. Israel, South Korea, Vietnam, China, Singapore, India, Kazakhstan, Philippines, Iran and the UK are the 10 most affected territories based on the number of submissions to VirusTotal. Activity among the most spread ransomware families comes and goes, but there is a baseline of activity of around 100 not-so-popular ransomware families that never stops. According to our observations, it seems that in most cases attackers prepare fresh new samples for their campaigns…”

Traffic Camera Mistakes Woman for Car, Issues Ticket to Car Owner PetaPixel

Physicists announce results that boost evidence for new fundamental physics PhysOrg

MakeUseOf: “Need detailed or specialized information? Google Socratic is the scholar’s Google, and here’s how it works…Google Socratic helps connect students to helpful educational resources from all over the web through a mobile phone app for free. Using technology like text-to-speech and photo analysis, Socratic uses artificial intelligence to enhance its search capabilities to help learners understand everything from general information to acquiring in-depth knowledge. Unlike its main search engine, Socratic puts the focus on academic-related searches, which means its resources are more likely to be reliable and trustworthy. At the time of writing, the app is devoid of unnecessary clutter like ads…”

Big Data Research: Left And Right Literally Speak Different Languages

Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University collected more than 86.6 million comments from more than 6.5 million users on 200,000 YouTube videos, then analyzed them using an AI technique normally employed to translate between two languages. - Wired