International fast-food giant McDonald's avoided paying half a billion dollars of tax in Australia over a five-year period by shifting profits through the low-tax nation of Singapore, a new report by a global coalition of trade unions says.
The report, which has been funded and commissioned by a coalition of global trade unions including the Public Services International (PSI), the International Union of Foodworkers (IUF) and the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), looks at how McDonald's has used "aggressive" tax strategies to avoid billions of dollars in taxes every year.
"McDonald's uses royalty payments from franchisees and foreign subsidiaries in major markets to route profits to tax havens," the report states. "These strategies may have allowed it to avoid up to US$1.8 billion (NZ$2.4m) in tax in those markets in the years between 2009 and 2013, including €1 billion (NZ$1.5b) across Europe and A$497 million (NZ$535m) in Australia."
That's half a billion dollars which could have gone to better public services for Australians, and instead flows into the pockets of McDonald's greedy and sociopathic shareholders. Of course, its all perfectly legal - and the fact that it is tells you that Australia's tax laws are inadequate.
Meanwhile, it poses the obvious question: is McDonald's doing this here? And if so, how much are they ripping us off by?
The full report on McDonald's tax cheating is here.