More transparency, sooner for big firms thanks to Labor - Media Release

MORE TRANSPARENCY, SOONER FOR BIG FIRMS THANKS TO LABOR 

The Senate has today passed Labor amendments that will give the Australian Tax Office access to information about big companies’ financial affairs sooner, and improve public transparency.

The Common Reporting Standard is an important global agreement for cracking down on multinational tax avoidance. It allows tax authorities to automatically exchange information about the contents of company and individual bank accounts.

Until now, multinational companies and wealthy individuals have often been able to avoid paying tax in one country simply by sending their money offshore to another jurisdiction so that tax authorities cannot see it.

Under Treasurer Joe Hockey, the Government dragged their feet in signing Australia up to the Common Reporting Standard and refused to join the Early Adopter Group that will begin exchanging information next year.

When introducing the bill to implement the standard in Australia, Treasurer Scott Morrison then set a timetable which would have let big companies off the hook in having their accounts reported until the end of 2019.

Labor’s amendments have brought forward the reporting date so that the Australian Tax Office can begin exchanging company information sooner.

In addition, Labor’s amendments will also ensure the tax office publishes an aggregated report of Australian financial holdings by foreign residents from each individual tax jurisdiction. This will increase public transparency about Australia’s place in global money flows.

Tax transparency groups have called for this to ensure Australia is not inadvertently playing a part in tax avoidance schemes originating in neighbouring countries throughout our region.

Having criticised Labor in the House of Representatives for our efforts to amend the Common Reporting Standard Bill, the Government saw sense in the Senate and agreed to support these important changes.

Just as with last year’s multinational tax bill and their recent changes to foreign investment rules, it takes pressure from Labor to make this Government take tax avoidance seriously.

Our campaign to tighten Australia’s tax net and ensure everyone pays their fair share of tax does not end here.

Next week I will table a Private Members Bill to increase penalties for companies that do not lodge country-by-country tax reports from $5,400 to $270,000. This will help ensure that companies obey the law, rather than merely choosing to pay the fine.

The Coalition might redeem its poor record on multinational taxation by backing that bill, just as they belatedly chose to back Labor’s Common Reporting Standard amendments today.

Only Labor is serious about making our tax system fairer, as our long-running battle against multinational tax avoidance shows.

WEDNESDAY, 24 FEBRUARY 2016

MEDIA CONTACT: JENNIFER RAYNER 0428 214 856


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