Voters back crackdown on tax

Most Australians think companies should pay their fair share of tax and support new regulation to improve transparency and reduce profit-shifting by multinationals.

Most Australians think companies should pay their fair share of tax and support new regulation to improve transparency and reduce profit-shifting by multinationals.

In addition, most voters would support tougher domestic regulation to ensure Australian and foreign corporations pay taxes here and abroad, research by anti-poverty organisation ActionAid Australia shows.

Voters would also support tougher international rules to close loopholes and force companies to disclose how much tax they pay here and offshore.

The research comes as Australia prepares to host the G20 meeting in Brisbane, where the issue of tax avoidance will be high on the agenda, following the introduction of an action plan on tax-base erosion and profit-shifting by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development in July.

ActionAid's survey of 1000 people found 92 per cent of respondents believed it was unacceptable that a foreign corporation could operate in a country in which it paid no taxes; 91 per cent said it was unacceptable that a foreign corporation could operate here and pay no taxes.

ActionAid Australia head of campaigns Mark Chenery said overwhelming support for new laws gave the Abbott government a clear mandate to crack down on tax dodging by multinationals, when the government assumes the G20 chair in December.

"What is clear is that the large majority want governments to create fair and transparent rules that ensure poor countries are no longer deprived of vital revenue," Mr Chenery said.

At the G20 meeting of finance ministers in July, the OECD launched a suite of new international taxation rules to try to close loopholes and shore up government revenues.

While Treasury endorses the rules, it warns it has limited ability to prevent companies moving profits overseas. The Coalition has promised to tackle tax-base erosion.

However, it has criticised legislation introduced by Labor, including a requirement on the Tax Office to publish the income and tax payable by companies earning more than $100 million a year.

This year the ATO followed the lead of other governments, including Britain and France, in ramping up its monitoring efforts on large multinationals.

Its 2013-14 annual compliance strategy includes 250 reviews and 70 audits of large or multinational businesses operating in Australia, of which at least half relate to suspected profit-shifting.

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