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IRS teams up with Australia, UK, to find tax cheats

WASHINGTON — The United States is teaming up with Australia and the United Kingdom in an effort to expose tax cheats from around the world.

Tax agencies from the three countries have acquired ‘‘a substantial amount of data’’ about potential tax cheats from many countries hiding assets in Singapore, the British Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands, and the Cook Islands, the Internal Revenue Service said Thursday.

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The agencies are offering to share the information with other countries, so they can prosecute their citizens.

‘‘This is part of a wider effort by the IRS and other tax administrations to pursue international tax evasion,’’ said acting IRS Commissioner Steven T. Miller.

‘‘Our cooperative work with the United Kingdom and Australia reflects a bigger goal of leaving no safe haven for people trying to illegally evade taxes.’’

Taxpayers can hold offshore accounts for a number of legitimate reasons, even in known tax havens. They may want to diversify their investments, facilitate international business transactions, or get easier access to money while living or working overseas.

But, the IRS notes, many people hide money in countries that don’t share banking information to evade taxes.

The data obtained by the tax agencies identifies potential tax cheats as well as tax advisers who are helping them, the IRS said.

The agency declined to say where it got the information.

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