Oxfam today welcomed reports the Australian Government will initiate a public register to reveal the true owners of shell companies.
“This is a long-awaited move, that when instituted, will bring Australia into line with the actions taken by other countries, including the United Kingdom,” Oxfam Australia Chief Executive Dr Helen Szoke said.
“A public register of beneficial ownership will help reveal the true identity of the super-rich who avoid tax by hiding behind shell companies and complex, murky tax arrangements.”
Dr Szoke said that while it was a very positive first step, if Australian political parties want to crack down on the international use of tax havens they needed to go further.
“Tackling tax evasion is an opportunity to deliver more revenue for the Australian national budget to spend on health and education, whilst also helping some of the extremely poor nations that were our closest neighbours,” Dr Szoke said.
“We know that this problem isn’t limited to Australia. Countries around the world, including the poorest nations, are losing out due to tax avoidance. Poor countries are starved of at least $100 billion annually due to the tax dodging and tax evasion practices of multinational companies.”
“Oxfam is calling on all parties to commit to publication of the taxes and profits of large companies on a country-by-country basis. What we have right now is a financial system that allows big business and the super-rich, here and abroad, to hide millions of dollars that they should be paying in tax,” Dr Szoke said.
Dr Szoke said the current reporting framework did not require the information on Australian companies operating overseas to be made public, or to be shared with governments in the poorest countries.
“Europe, the US and Canada have already introduced legislation for at-risk sectors that ensures the public sees what taxes are paid on a country-by-county basis,” Dr Szoke said.
“Parties need to be prepared to adopt legislation that makes this information public so Australians and communities abroad, get the full picture on whether corporations are paying their fair share of tax. But to do this, all parties need to get their policies right. That means addressing both national and international tax loopholes.”
More information at: www.oxfam.org.au/inequality/maketaxfair/
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