PARLIAMENT HOUSE, CANBERRA
FRIDAY, 9 DECEMBER 2016
SUBJECT/S: Australian Taxation Office report on tax payments by large companies
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER: Thanks very much for coming along, my name is Andrew Leigh, the Shadow Assistant Treasurer.
In 2013 Labor passed historic laws to ensure that Australians knew how much tax big firms were paying. The Liberals and Nationals voted against those laws at the time. About a year ago they voted with the Greens to water down Australia's tax transparency laws, taking two thirds of private companies out of the reporting net.
We still have Labor's historic tax transparency laws, and today’s data release makes for disturbing reading. We have a report today relating to 1504 large Australian firms. It shows that 36 per cent of big Australian companies pay no tax. More than one in three big Australian companies pay no tax.
Now we hear a lot from the Coalition about leaners and lifters, about the taxed and the taxed-nots. Rather than beating up on pensioners and Australians with disabilities, the Turnbull Government might start by focusing on tax not being paid by the big end of town. Because we now know that there is some serious problems with tax avoidance in this country. When we look at some of the biggest firms, there are over 100 firms in Australia that turn over a billion dollars who didn't pay a cent of tax last year - not one brass razoo.
So when you've got more than one hundred ‘billion dollar companies’ not paying any tax you have to wonder where the tax problem really is. Yet Malcolm Turnbull and Scott Morrison are fixated on a company tax cut, fixated on the idea that the real problem with the big end of town is that they're paying too much tax. Australians will look at today's report and many of them would be concerned that the problem with the big end of town is that they ought to be paying more tax. That they ought to be paying their fair share.
The share of big Australian companies that didn't pay any tax in the last reporting year is the same as the one before that. 36 per cent didn't pay tax in the 2013-2014 tax year and 36 per cent didn't pay tax in the 2014-2015 tax year.
Labor's answer is to expand tax transparency laws. We'd like to see more big firms brought into the public reporting net. We also believe that we need to crack down on debt deductions. These deductions allow big Australian firms to use loopholes to shift profits offshore. These loopholes aren't available to Australian mums and dads and small businesses. They're only there for multinational companies.
Only Labor believes in proper tax transparency. Only Labor believes that multinationals should pay their fair share. Only Labor is concerned at today's reports and is evidence that one in three big Australian firms aren't paying their fair share.
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