Green money-grab detailed
The Greens have released an 18-point policy plan they say will stamp out tax avoidance by multinationals and raise at least AU$1.69 billion in additional revenue.
The policy – available here in PDF form – contains measures to tackle four key problem areas: Enforcement, tax law, public disclosure, and global diplomacy.
It includes the following 18 measures;
- Restoring funding to the ATO, to rebuild staffing levels to the level they were at the change of government at a cost of approximately $500 million each year
- Establishing a high-level tax recovery unit made up of 20 of the top tax accountants and legal specialists from the private sector, tasked with reclaiming revenue. This has been anticipated by the Greens to cost around $20 million per year
- Introducing whistleblower protections and support programs that extend protections to private sector workers, in light of financial scandals exposed in the last few years
- Increasing powers for ASIC by removing the confidentiality provisions in section 127 of the ASIC Act. This would allow ASIC to share information with the ATO without having to notify the affected person. They would also require all proprietary companies to review and confirm their size with ASIC annually, and force people who propose to become directors of companies to provide evidence of their identity to ASIC
- Penalising operations based in ‘secrecy jursidictions’ that do not exchange tax information with the ATO
- Taxing trusts as companies to prevent Australians holding their assets in trusts, manipulating the sale and income that flows from them through other intermediaries so that tax is avoided
- Assessing multi-nationals’ tax deductions based on a worldwide gearing ratio. The Greens say they will reduce the options for companies to calculate their loan deductions so that the only test for how much interest can be deducted is limited to the debt to equity ratio of the company across its global operations
- Considering a company’s tax arrangements as part of government tender/contract processes, requiring all companies that are submitting tenders for government contracts to provide information on where the company and all its related entities are domiciled for tax purposes
- Establishing a beneficial owners register, and allowing the ATO to charge penalties against companies and individuals that do not lodge information of who owns or has control of trusts and private companies registered in Australia
- Publishing a list of the top users of inter-related transactions, which the Greens say allow companies to transfer money offshore to associated companies
- Establishing a settlements register to provide the public with a list of all assessment notices issued by the ATO when it has a dispute with the company’s own figures. The party says this will dissuade companies from under-claiming their tax liabilities, it will give the ATO more bargaining power in negotiations to avoid litigation, and it will place public pressure on the ATO not to give too much ground on tax settlements
- Making ‘at risk’ industries like the mining and construction sectors publish the size and purpose of funds paid to foreign governments
- Lowering tax disclosure thresholds for both private and publicly listed companies beyond their current levels, so that companies with $50 million of income in a year will disclose their taxes paid (or not paid)
- Ending the exemptions on disclosure or grandfathered companies, so that company names cannot be sold to other companies at a premium and allow the owner to avoid disclosure under the regular reporting regime
- Tightening accounting reporting standards to require companies whose constitutions allow a Director to defer to the best interests of their global parent, and thereby circumvent their legal obligations, to act in the best interests of the Australian company and shareholders
- Stopping the Government’s Future Fund from investing in companies domiciled in tax havens ranging from the Guernsey Islands, Luxembourg, Ireland and the Cayman Islands
- Investing to make Australia an “activist middle power” that uses diplomacy to fight global tax avoidance
- Working towards unitary pricing to ensure that taxes are paid where the economic activity occurs.
The Greens say their policy will raise at least $1.69 billion additional revenue, but their costings were done internally, not by the Parliamentary Budget Office.
“As these tax integrity measures begin to bite we will see an uptick in corporate tax payments made in Australia which will improve the budget bottom line over time,” their official statement says.