Responding to the release of figures by the Australian Taxation Office that reveal the extent of tax avoidance by large Australian-based companies, Oxfam Australia’s Economic Policy Advisor Joy Kyriacou said:
“The Australian Taxation Office has confirmed that multinationals avoided paying an estimated $2.5 billion into the public coffers in the 2014-15 financial year – money which could have been used to tackle poverty and inequality.
“Oxfam believes that the ATO figure of $2.5 billion is a conservative estimate. The ATO can only report on what large companies are bound to tell it, not on taxes which multinationals are dodging through legal tax avoidance.
“Nonetheless, this is still $2.5 billion which could be used to pay for schools, hospitals and other essential public infrastructure. The estimated $2.5 billion would be enough to cover the cost of 2.5 million emergency ward admissions, or funding for more than 200,000 secondary school students, or provide 53,000 people with a disability with individual support under the National Disability Insurance Scheme.
“The ATO figures also don’t capture the more than $100 billion (USD) that multinationals are estimated to be ripping out of developing countries every year by avoiding taxes.
“This robs those governments of much-needed funding for clean water, education and healthcare. This is shameful in a world where 400 million of the poorest people don’t have access to basic healthcare and where the eight richest men have the same amount of wealth has the poorest half of humanity.
“While the Federal Government has started to crack down on companies which are hiding their profits in tax havens, the measures have not gone far enough.
“The Labor Party has promised to make large companies tax affairs public for every country in which they operate.
“Oxfam is again calling on the Federal Government to follow suit and introduce public country-by-country reporting to further crack down on wealthy multinational companies that are shirking their responsibility to pay their fair share of tax. Making such information public would allow citizens to hold firms and governments to account over unfair tax arrangements.
“Transparency, which requires multinationals to publish their profits, taxes and assets for every country in which they operate, is an essential step towards fighting global tax avoidance.
“It is time for the Government to act and make Australia a world leader in tackling the global scourge of tax dodging.”
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