​Greens slam changes to tax transparency laws

Government has made it easier for Australian companies to avoid paying tax, says Greens spokesperson Adam Bandt

Greens MP Adam Bandt has lambasted the passing of new laws that ensure tax details of Australian-owned private companies are exempt from public disclosure rules, saying the government has made it easier for these companies to avoid paying their share of tax.

The Tax and Superannuation Laws Amendment (Better Targeting the Incomes Tax Transparency Laws) Bill, which is aimed at protecting the privacy of Australian-owned private companies, passed the Senate yesterday.

Bandt said the government had “scratched the back” of its big business mates by bringing down a veil of secrecy over the tax paid, or not paid, by some of the country’s most profitable companies.

“By removing this transparency from our tax laws, the government has made it easier for companies to avoid paying their fair share of tax.”

According to Bandt, the Bill was “a huge step backward" in the fight against corporate tax avoidance.

Assistant Treasurer, Kelly O'Dwyer, said the Coalition government had ensured that the taxation details of Australian-owned private companies would remain exempt from the Labor party’s public disclosure taxation rules.

Under those rules, the Commissioner of Taxation would have been required to publish tax information of Australian owned private companies with income of $100 million or more, she said.

In May 2015, the Coalition government released the details of a new Multinational Anti Avoidance Law that will stop multinationals using complex schemes to escape paying tax.

“Under this new law, when we catch companies cheating, they will have to pay back double what they owe, plus interest,” said Treasury Joe Hockey.

This new law will apply to companies with global revenue of $1 billion or more, according to budget documents.

Budget documents state that the new law will target companies where “the activities of an Australian company or other entity are integral to an Australian customer’s decision to enter into a contract”, ”the contract is formally entered into with a foreign related party to that entity” and “the profit from the Australian sales is booked overseas and subject to no or low global tax.”

The measure follows an inquiry into corporate tax avoidance which has seen scrutiny of the tax minimisation strategies of a number of multinational technology companies, including Google, Apple and Microsoft.

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