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Who pays for our Common Wealth?

United Voice collaborated with the Tax Justice Network to research what Australia's 200 largest companies pay in tax. 

What we discovered was worse than we expected. A lot worse. Today, we're releasing a groundbreaking report "Who Pays for Our Common Wealth? Tax Practices of the ASX 200". You can click here to download the full report - or alternatively, you can just click here to download our short version of the report.

You can read a story of the report in the fairfax media here: "ASX 200 company tax avoidance bleeds Commonwealth coffers of billions a year, report finds" and Michael West argues that the "ATO needs to man up on tax dodges".

We examined the last decade worth of taxes by the Countries biggest companies. We found 29% have an effective tax rate of 10% or less. Worse, 14% have an effective tax rate of 0%! That means more than 1 in 10 of the top two hundred companies in Australia pay no tax at all. 
David O’Byrne, National Secretary, United Voice says “The community will be shocked to learn that many of Australia’s largest corporations can legally eliminate the need to pay tax at all or reduce their tax bill to 10% or less.
The corporate tax rate is set at 30% - that means every year, these big companies are avoiding paying $8.4 Billion dollars of tax. 
Fairfax have created this handy visual guide to show you just how much these big companies are avoiding paying tax:
David O'Byrne along with school cleaner member Ian Pandilovsky will be holding a press conference this morning to talk about the reports findings:
You can follow along the press conference on twitter - follow David on twitter, and follow United Voice's twitter here.
“This report raises serious concerns about Australia’s largest corporations and if they pay what they should be in tax. The first priority for any tax reform must be to ensure that everyone is paying their fair share. 
“In the last five years the proportion of tax received from businesses shrank from 23% to 19%, while the proportion from individuals rose from 37% to 39%.
“Australia needs to tackle this threat head on. Otherwise ordinary Australians and small businesses will end up paying more and getting less in return, as services are cut,” says David O’Byrne.
“A full Parliamentary Inquiry into Australia’s corporate tax system is needed in order to get to the bottom of the problem and to investigate solutions for ensuring that our corporate tax system is working as it should,” Mr O’Byrne said.
“While many Australian companies pay close to the 30% corporate tax rate, some large corporations aggressively avoid tax obligations. If tax dodging is allowed there will be pressure on corporations who do not currently use these tactics to start doing so. If that occurs, some of the $70 billion in corporate tax revenue is at risk and Australians face losing services we all rely on,” says David O’Byrne.
Already, our report is making waves- Rupert Murdoch defended his companies record on tax on twitter:
Mark Zirnsak, from the Tax Justice Network Australia, says “The frequent use of subsidiaries in secrecy jurisdictions in combination with the shifting of debt and profits is resulting in lost tax revenue in Australia and overseas where it should be paying for essential services to help lift people out of poverty. 
“Last financial year a massive $47 billion flowed from Australia to secrecy jurisdictions. 
There are positive steps being taken by the G20 to address tax avoidance, but more needs to be done to ensure Australia leads by example and Australian companies contribute their fair share,” says Dr Zirnsak.
“Some of the most common secrecy jurisdictions used by Australian corporations include the British Virgin Islands, Mauritius, Jersey, the Cayman Islands and Bermuda,” Dr Zirnsak said. 
In a sky news interview this morning, Finance Minister Mathias Cormann said he was "very confident Tax Commissioner Chris Jordan willl be looking closely at those reports" - you can watch it here.
Which means that already, the report has gained traction, as Herald journalist Heath Aston couldn't even get the ATO to comment on the reports findings last week: 
Senior Editor at the Age, Mark Hawthorne, reports that Wesfarmers managing director Richard Goyder has hit out at companies that don't pay sufficient tax in Australia, and called on multinational corporations "to pay tax in the communities in which they operate". You can read his story here
United Voice member and school cleaner, Ian Pandilovsky, explains why he helped launch this report - and why it's so important: 

UPDATE: Today, we head to Parliament to give a briefing with the Tax Justice Network on our report into the tax practices of the ASX 200.


Yesterday, in Question time in Parliament, Bill Shorten accused the government of going soft on corporate tax avoidance. Watch the fairfax coverage here: 



It was great to see politician after politician stand up and pressure the government to do something about corporate tax avoidance - using the figures from our report! 

Last night, too, ABC tv show the Roast covered corporate tax avoidance - cleverly explaining how these corporations offshore their profits and avoid taxes. You can watch it on iview here.

Two new stories today in the paper - one a front page piece on the inadequacy of the ATO to keep up with tax avoiders:

There was also an editorial by Leader of the opposition, Bill Shorten on the cost of corporate tax avoidance. He points out the unfair cost to Australian business: "It is not right that Australian businesses, big and small, shoulder an unfair share of the taxation burden while highly profitable companies who benefit from our skilled workforce, our stable investment environment and our growing economy make only a minimal contribution." read more here.

The point we'll be trying to make in our briefing at parliament house today is the cost to our members - hard-working Australians who rely on the government for essential public services like health and education:

We made a video of our members talking about why tax is important and why it's important that everyone pays their fair share - and showed it to politicians at our briefing today at parliament: 

Just today Gerry Harvey has come out saying that tax avoidance is morally wrong, joining Wesfarmers boss Richard Goyder as a leader in the business industry taking a stand on tax. Click here to read what Gerry had to say about why he chose to pay tax when it could have been easy not to... And click here to read why Wesfarmers believes in paying their fair share of taxes.

Following his trip to Canberra, Anthony Carlson appeared in "This Working Life", to tell his story of giving a briefing to Senators and Members of Parliament. You can read it by clicking here


Just a day after our member Anthony briefed politicians in parliament house, the Senate has voted to launch an inquiry into corporate tax avoidance - the very thing we asked for! You can read our media release on this news here.


To read our full report: you can click here to download