Small business people want big business to come under the same scrutiny from the tax office as they do.
Small business people want big business to come under the same scrutiny from the tax office as they do. AndreyPopov

Voters angry over multinational tax dodgers

POTTSVILLE small businessman Dan Hills can’t believe multinational companies have been getting away with paying so little tax for so long.

Mr Hills, who runs Abtech Refrigeration, said by contrast the Australian Taxation Office was quick to crackdown on small operators like him.

“One instance I forgot to post my BAS statement and they were onto me straight away... and threatened a fine,” he said.

With all political parties now competing to look the toughest on cracking down against multinational tax minimisation strategies, Mr Hills said it was hard to believe that it had taken so long for them to act.

“Normally it’s only when other people make them aware of it that something gets done,” he said.

“I’m sure they’ll follow through. It makes sense to.

“Australians needs to get their books back in the black.

“And maybe we might get a tax cut somewhere along the line.”

Nationals candidate for the seat of Richmond Matthew Fraser said tax avoidance by multinationals was an issue being raised by Tweed and Ballina voters on the hustings.

“They’re fed up with the big end of town getting away with tax-dodging and outright misconduct when the rest of us work hard and play by the rules,” Mr Fraser said.

“In my small business, I’m accountable if I don’t do the right thing, it’s about time those at the top were held to the same standard.

A new Tax Avoidance Taskforce within the ATO, to be established by the Coalition is projected to raise $3.7 billion over four years.

The Malcolm Turnbull government is also promising a diverted profits tax which would impose a 40% penalty tax rate on large multinationals that attempt to shift profits offshore.

But Richmond Labor MP Justine Elliot has questioned why Labor’s original threshold for reporting of large private firms was watered down by the Coalition last year, with the support of the Greens, shielding about 600 companies from public scrutiny.

The Coalition wound back laws, introduced under the former Labor government, requiring the Australian Taxation Office to publish the tax information of public and private companies with $100 million or more turnover.

Business lobbied hard against the publication of such information, saying it could be "misleading" and could pose a security risk to company owners.

Mrs Elliot said the Coalition’s refusal to stage a royal commission into Australian banks was another example of their protection of the top end of town.

Labor is proposing its own suite of measures to crackdown on multinational tax avoidance including increasing the penalty for failing to lodge a tax return by 50 times, ensuring the country cannot be used as a destination for money-laundering and other illegal activity, plus establishing a central registry of company ownership and structures.

Greens candidate Dawn Walker said her party was proposing “the most comprehensive crackdown on tax avoidance this country has ever seen”.

The Greens measures were aimed at enforcement, tax law changes, enhanced public disclosure and global diplomacy.

“This policy will raise at least $1.69 billion additional revenue to spend on essential services and infrastructure,” Mrs Walker said.

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