THE HON DR ANDREW LEIGH MP
ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR COMPETITION, CHARITIES AND TREASURY
Beneficial ownership register - consultation
The Albanese Government has opened consultation on the design features for the first phase of a publicly available beneficial ownership register. We announced we would implement the register as part of our commitment to ensuring multinationals pay their fair share of tax.
A beneficial owner is a person who ultimately owns or controls an entity, legal vehicle, or asset. Beneficial owners are not always the legal owners of the relevant entity, vehicle, or asset.
A public beneficial ownership register is intended to increase transparency of beneficial ownership in Australia and discourage the use of complex structures that avoid legal requirements and obscure tax liabilities. It seeks to support stronger regulatory and law enforcement responses to tax and financial crime, assist foreign investment applications, and facilitate the enforcement of sanctions.
In this consultation on the first phase of the reform, the Government would welcome views on a proposal to require specified unlisted entities regulated under the Corporations Act 2001 (Corporations Act) to maintain beneficial ownership registers. It also seeks comments on proposed amendments to the substantial holding notice and tracing notice regimes in the Corporations Act.
In future phases, the Government intends to consult on approaches to disclosure of beneficial ownership held through other legal vehicles, such as trusts, and the centralisation of information in a single public registry.
Implementation of a beneficial ownership register would broadly align Australia with international approaches to transparency of beneficial ownership information. Currently, Australia is not ranked highly against international benchmarks for the collection and disclosure of beneficial ownership information, including those set out by the Financial Action Task Force.
Ensuring everyone pays their fair share of tax in Australia will help to fund vital services, repair the Budget, and level the playing field for Australian businesses.
We welcome contributions from the community. Submissions close on 16 December 2022.
To access the discussion papers or lodge a submission, visit the Treasury website.