Oxfam: Australia losing billions to tax havens

The Australian government lost an estimated 5 billion US dollars in revenue in 2014 as a result of tax dodging by multinational corporations, an Oxfam report released Thursday said.

The report said investments from Australian-based big companies in tax havens globally grew from an estimated 56.4 billion US dollars in 2009 to 79.1 billion US dollars in 2014.

"The Oxfam report, for the first time, puts dollar figures on what Australians and poor people in our region are missing out on because Australian-based multinational companies aren't paying their fair share of tax," Helen Szoke, Oxfam Australia's chief executive, said in a statement.

Worldwide, 10.35 trillion dollars were invested in what Oxfam identified as 20 tax havens, including Mauritius, Singapore, Ireland, the Netherlands, Malaysia, and Hong Kong, the report said, of which an estimated 79.1 billion came from Australia.

Szoke said their research was based on IMF data that showed the flow of money from Australian-based multinationals.

"Unfortunately, there is no way to find out which individual companies are dodging [Australian] tax, as they’re not required to publish their tax affairs on a country-by-country basis," she said.

Last year, the Australian government passed legislation to tighten multinational tax loopholes on companies with a global income of at least 1 billion dollars.

The Multinational Anti Avoidance Law (MAAL) and the new DivertedProfits Tax are expected to raise around 650 million dollars over four years from large multinationals, a treasury review said in May.

Szoke said the new rules would still not touch "nearly 1,900 large companies with more than 100 million dollars in annual turnover."

The government is also establishing a Tax Avoidance Taskforce, which is expected to raise 3.7 billion dollars in additional revenue.

Oxfam said developing countries lost out even more from the foregone tax revenue.

"Over the next five years for instance, we estimate that Indonesia will be deprived of 360 million US dollars that could go towards education," the report said.

"Papua New Guinea – one of Australia’s poorest neighbours and a recipient of substantial investment from Australia – stands to lose around 17 million US dollars in expenditure that could go to providing essential services."

"Australia is part of this global problem."

Last update: Thu, 09/06/2016 - 12:19
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