Monday, May 27, 2013

Aussie tax cheats

So, it seems that many of Australia's top companies are tax cheats:

Almost two-thirds of Australia’s top 100 companies listed on the stock exchange have subsidiaries in tax havens or low-tax jurisdictions, a new report shows.

Thirteen of the top 20 companies, including two of the big four banks, have entities in well-known tax havens such as the Cayman Islands, Luxembourg, the British Virgin Islands and Bermuda.

A Uniting Church report, Secrecy Jurisdictions, the ASX100 and Public Transparency, reveals 61 of the top 100 companies held subsidiaries in ‘‘secrecy jurisdictions’’ as of April 2011 that have been targeted by tax authorities for sheltering companies dodging tax.

News Corporation, Westfield and the Goodman Group were among the worst offenders, the group said, holding more than 50 entities in low-tax jurisdictions each.

The report shows that while many of the companies may do legitimate business in low-tax jurisdictions such as Hong Kong and Singapore, many subsidiaries exist with little evidence of commercial activity.

This should be a concern to us because Australia's top companies are our top companies. Westfield, Goodman, AMP, Toll and Fairfax all do business here - and if they're ripping off the Australian government, you can bet they're ripping off ours. And in the process, they're ripping off you and me, robbing us of the money we need to pay for schools and hospitals.

UK MP Margaret Hodge is right: this is a moral issue. These companies benefit from our government and the stable, functioning society it provides. And yet they are refusing to pay for it. They are simply parasites, and they need to be made to pay their fair share like the rest of us do.