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Turnbull Govt Needs To Do 'A Lot More' On Multinationals Dodging Tax: Oxfam

Oxfam wants the government to step up its game on fighting tax avoidance.

12/12/2016 7:01 AM AEDT | Updated 12/12/2016 7:01 AM AEDT
Bobby Yip / Reuters
Oxfam says Australia needs to get tough on multinationals dodging Australian tax laws.

Australian-based multinationals are shifting more than $4 billion in taxes to some of the world's most well-known corporate tax havens each year, new research from advocacy group Oxfam claims.

The research, published by Oxfam on Sunday, estimates tax-dodging by Australian-based multinationals through the 15 top corporate tax havens cost the nation between $4 and $4.8 billion in 2014. Oxfam claims that number represents about 90 per cent of Australia's lost corporate tax in the year.

The report also revealed the 15 top tax havens for Aussie-based multinationals, with Oxfam naming them as Bermuda, the Cayman Islands, the Netherlands, Switzerland and Singapore.

In the report, Oxfam named Switzerland, Singapore, and The Netherlands as the top three offshore financial centres used by tax-dodging multinationals operating in Australia.

Oxfam Australia senior economist Muheed Jamaldeen said the Turnbull government needed to do more to crack down on big companies dodging their tax obligations.

Jamaldeen called for tax transparency legislation that would require multinationals in Australia with income greater than $250 million publicly to report incomes, employees, profits earned and taxes paid for all nations they operate in.

"There is no winner in the race to the bottom on corporate tax," Jamaldeen said in a statement.

"The Australian Government has taken steps in the right direction, but data released on Friday which showed more than one in three large companies are paying no tax is evidence that we need to do a lot more.

"The Australian Government has a responsibility to join efforts to stop this race to the bottom on corporate tax rates, and demand that companies Turb -- at home and abroad."

On Friday, the ATO published its corporate tax transparency report for 2014-15, which includes limited tax details for over 1900 companies.

It showed that more than a third of large public and private corporations paid zero tax in 2014-15, with over 30 percent of big firms reporting nil tax payable.

The report covered public and foreign firms with an income of $100 million or more and companies privately owned by Australian residents with an income of $200 million-plus.

In the wake of that data release, Labor hit out at the federal government's plan to give big business tax cuts when the numbers showed almost 700 don't pay tax. Labor has been pushing for a crackdown on multinational tax avoidance and has repeatedly called on the Turnbull government to scrap its business tax cuts.

The findings from Oxfam's latest research come after the organisation's June 2016 report that estimated nearly $9 billion in corporate tax was being hidden by Australian-based multinationals in tax havens.

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