Oz urged to ‘name and shame’ firms avoid­ing taxes

The China Post - - BUSI­NESS -

Multi­na­tional firms shift­ing prof­its off­shore to avoid­ing pay­ing Aus­tralian taxes should be “named and shamed,” the chair of an Aus­tralian par­lia­men­tary in­quiry into the prac­tices said Sun­day ahead of the re­lease of a re­port.

The in­quiry has grilled se­nior rep­re­sen­ta­tives from some of the world’s big­gest firms in the tech­nol­ogy, phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal and min­ing sec­tors on whether they were us­ing com­plex cor­po­rate struc­tures to re­duce their tax bur­den.

The push in Aus­tralia to crack down on multi­na­tional firms has been mir­rored in other coun­tries, with the UK in March in­tro­duc­ing a so-called Google tax on compa- nies that di­vert prof­its over­seas.

“The worst tax of­fend­ers should be named and shamed, they should have to jus­tify pub­licly why they’re tak­ing the stances that they’re tak­ing,” the in­quiry’s chair­man Sam Dast­yari told re­porters in Syd­ney.

The in­quiry’s re­port, to be tabled in par­lia­ment Mon­day, is set to call for the dis­clo­sure of tax avoid­ance set­tle­ments with the Aus­tralian Tax­a­tion Of­fice above a cer­tain level — such as AU$100 mil­lion (US$73.78), the Syd­ney Morn­ing Her­ald re­ported.

“At this point in time, you have a se­ries of Aus­tralia’s most pow­er­ful com­pa­nies fight­ing against any trans­parency mea­sure to ac­tu­ally re­veal what goes on be­hind closed doors be­tween them and the tax of­fice,” Dast­yari added.

“The more pub­lic ex­po­sure, the more pres­sure that’s brought upon th­ese com­pa­nies, the bet­ter the pol­icy out­come.”

One of the re­port’s 18 rec­om­men­da­tions will sug­gest that even com­pa­nies with over­seas head­quar­ters should dis­close their rev­enue, tax paid and de­duc­tions used in Aus­tralia, the Her­ald said.

Firms quizzed by the up­per house Se­nate hear­ings, in­clud­ing Ap­ple, Google, Pfizer and John­son & John­son, said they had abided by lo­cal and in­ter­na­tional tax laws.

Aus­tralian Trea­surer Joe Hock- ey re­vealed ear­lier this year his govern­ment’s plans to in­tro­duce leg­is­la­tion tar­get­ing 30 un­named firms for shift­ing prof­its off­shore.

While the Or­ga­ni­za­tion for Eco­nomic Co­op­er­a­tion and Devel­op­ment ( OECD), a group­ing of wealthy na­tions, has played a key role in in­ter­na­tional ef­forts to tackle tax avoid­ance, such con­cerns are also shared by de­vel­op­ing coun­tries.

The is­sue took cen­ter stage at a global de­vel­op­ing fi­nanc­ing sum­mit in Ethiopia last month. The U. N.’ s trade and devel­op­ment body UNC­TAD has said that such prac­tices were cost­ing poorer coun­tries some US$100 bil­lion a year.

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