The Senate's inquiry into corporate tax avoidance in Australia is underway, with public submissions closing this week. Reading through the responses, it's really clear that we need better tax transparency right now.
TAX INQUIRY SUBMISSIONS BACK NEED FOR MORE TRANSPARENCY
The Senate’s inquiry into corporate tax avoidance has underlined the need for greater tax transparency in Australia, with one in three submissions backing the public release of more information on how much tax companies really pay.
On top of the submissions directly supporting better transparency, a further one in three have raised concerns about incorrect and confusing information on corporate tax payments circulating in the public domain.
The inquiry was established by Labor in the wake of growing global concern about multinational profit shifting in recent years.
The Australian Tax Office’s submission reports that companies sent over $115 billion offshore to the low-tax jurisdictions of Singapore and Switzerland in 2012-13 alone, revealing the potential scale of the problem.
At the close of submissions this week, the inquiry had attracted 68 responses from major corporations, government agencies and not-for-profit groups.
With a majority of these submissions raising concerns about the availability and accuracy of corporate tax data, it is clear that the Abbott Government needs to act to improve tax transparency.
In 2013, Labor brought in legislation requiring the Australian Tax Office to publish data on the revenue, profit and tax paid by companies earning over $100 million.
This took effect for the 2013-14 financial year, but the data will not actually be released until near the end of this year because of auditing and processing delays.
That’s if the Abbott Government decides to go ahead with it at all, as ministers Mathias Cormann and Joshua Frydenberg have indicated they may cave in to pressure from big business and scrap Labor’s transparency laws altogether.
By contrast, Labor has proposed to bring forward the reporting date to cover 2012-13 as well, making the tax data available immediately.
We call for the Abbott Government to pass Labor’s Tax Laws Amendment (Tax Transparency) Bill 2014 in the first sitting of Parliament so that the tax data can be considered as part of the Senate’s inquiry.
It’s time for the Abbott Government to stand on the side of fairness and accountability instead of continuing to block better tax transparency.
THURSDAY, 5 FEBRUARY 2015
MEDIA CONTACT: JENNIFER RAYNER 0428 214 856