TIME FOR ACTION, NOT TALK, ON TAX TRANSPARENCY
The Senate Economics Reference Committee is today hosting a public hearing into corporate tax avoidance and will hear from Apple, Microsoft, Facebook and Google.
But what they really need to hear is the Turnbull Government’s support for Labor’s plans crack down on multinational tax dodgers, including:
- Tightening debt-deduction loopholes used by multinational companies, improving the Budget by $4.6 billion over the decade.
- Removing tax advantages and inconsistencies between Multiple Entry Consolidated Groups (consisting of Australian-resident entities that share a common ultimate foreign owner) and Australian-owned ordinary consolidated groups.
- Delivering more tax transparency by restoring Labor’s $100 million threshold for public reporting of tax data for private companies. This threshold was raised to $200 million by the Liberals and Greens, exempting two-thirds of private firms from tax transparency.
- Appointing a community sector representative to the Board of Taxation to ensure community sector voices are heard in tax design and review processes.
- Introducing public reporting of country-by-country reports. High-level tax information about where and how much tax was paid by large corporations (over $1 billion in global revenue) should be released.
- Providing protection for whistleblowers who report on entities evading tax to the Australian Taxation Office. Where whistleblowers’ information results in more tax being paid, allow them to collect a share of the tax penalty (a reward of up to $250,000).
- Introducing mandatory shareholder reporting of tax haven exposure. Companies must disclose to shareholders as a ‘Material Tax Risk’ if the company is doing business in a tax haven.
- Introducing public reporting of Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC) data and require the annual public release of international cash flow data.
- Requiring government tenderers to disclose their country of tax domicile. All firms tendering for Australian Government contracts worth more than $200,000 should state their country of domicile for tax purposes.
- Developing guidelines for tax haven investment by superannuation funds. This should be done by the Australian Tax Office, in collaboration with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission and the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority.
- Introducing a publicly accessible registry of the beneficial ownership of Australian listed companies and legal entities (including trusts). This will allow everyone to find out who really owns our firms. Shareholders should not be able to use complex structures and sham ownership to avoid complying with corporate transparency rules.
- Requiring that the Australian Taxation Office’s annual report provide information on the number and size of tax settlements.
Tax transparency is just 12 steps away. Your move, Mr Turnbull.
TUESDAY, 22 AUGUST 2017