The extent of tax dodging by some of the wealthiest individuals and companies around the world – including in Australia – has yet again been exposed by leaks and media reports that underscore the urgent need for tax reforms, Oxfam Australia said today.
Oxfam Australia Chief Executive Helen Szoke said the latest reports of tax scandals, exposed through stories by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) and others, had leaked more than 13 million files that again revealed the extensive use of tax havens, offshore deals, schemes and trusts to hide wealth around the world.
“The Paradise Papers have laid bare the extent to which multinationals and rich individuals continue to exploit a broken and unjust system that is fuelling global poverty and inequality,” Dr Szoke said
“The evidence is insurmountable and the need for the Federal Government to take further action to tackle tax dodging could not be clearer – its measures simply haven’t gone far enough and do little to prevent the type of abuse revealed today.”
The latest scandals come just weeks after the Australian Taxation Office released data estimating multinationals avoided paying $2.5 billion in taxes in 2014-2015. Companies including global mining giant Glencore, as well as Apple, have been named in the scandal.
“Rorting of the tax system is cheating the public purse of billions of dollars in Australia – money that could be used for schools, hospitals and other public services,” Dr Szoke said.
“It’s also robbing governments in the poorest countries of much-needed funding for clean water, education and healthcare. This is shameful in a world where 400 million of the poorest people don’t have access to basic healthcare and the eight richest men have the same amount of wealth as the poorest half of humanity.”
Dr Szoke said the Opposition had promised changes that would make large companies’ tax affairs public for every country in which they operate, make public the individual beneficial owners of companies and trusts, and special provisions to make mining companies reveal their tax practices.
“Oxfam is again calling on the Federal Government to follow suit and introduce public country-by-country reporting as the first step in stemming the billions of dollars being siphoned offshore to tax havens, and to make the register of beneficial ownership public,” Dr Szoke said.
“Tax transparency, which requires multinationals to publish their profits, taxes and assets for every country in which they operate, is an essential step to fight global tax avoidance. Making this information public would mean we don’t have to rely on leaks and scandals to find out if companies are paying their fair share.
“It’s time for global corporations to clean up their act. Until real action is taken, the super-wealthy and big companies will continue to shirk paying their fair share of taxes – and ordinary people and the world’s poorest pay the price.”
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