Hogan could be trapped in Aust for years
Actor Paul Hogan could potentially be stuck in Australia for years, his lawyer says.
The Crocodile Dundee star, who returned to Australia to attend his mother’s funeral, has been prevented from leaving under an order by the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) because of an alleged multi-million dollar tax bill.
Andrew Robinson, of Sydney law firm Robinson Legal, says he is hopeful agreement can be reached with the ATO, otherwise Hogan “could potentially be stuck in Australia for years”.
“It is not looking good; this is a very serious order,” Mr Robinson said.
The ATO was refusing to meet Hogan’s lawyers until more detailed information on his tax affairs was provided, he added.
Hogan, 70, who lives in the United States with his wife Linda Kozlowski and their son, Chance, has been embroiled in a row with the ATO for the past five years.
The actor was served with the notice after arriving in the country last week to attend his mother’s funeral.
A departure prohibition order can remain in place until it is revoked or set aside by a court, the ATO’s website says.
The actor was “stunned and very disappointed” by the decision, a statement issued by Hogan’s lawyers said.
“You’re talking about a person who has paid literally millions and millions and millions of dollars in Australian tax and brought countless millions of dollars … back into the economy,” Mr Robinson told ABC radio on Thursday.
“Are we not, in our system, entitled to have the tax department tell us what that amount is, and for us to challenge that?”
Hogan was involved in an industry that distributed films through something like 178 countries, Mr Robinson said.
A lot of celebrities didn’t want their affairs scrutinised for BRW rich lists or by inquisitive journalists and quite often chose to put their properties in nominees for entirely legitimate reasons, he said.
It was “an absurd proposition” to suggest Hogan was doing it because he was “greedy”, Mr Robinson said.
“The tax department’s assertions will be proven to some extent at least to be incorrect,” he said.
“Paul’s view is that he stayed on paying Australian tax for too long and he probably should have been paying American tax earlier.”
No charges had ever been laid against the actor following investigations by the Australian Crimes Commission (ACC) and the ATO, and the ACC had previously accepted Hogan’s unsecured undertaking to return to Australia to assist in their inquiries, his lawyers said on Wednesday.
The ATO will not comment on the case, saying it never comments on the tax affairs of individuals.