Senate debates

Tuesday, 10 November 2015

Bills

Tax Laws Amendment (Combating Multinational Tax Avoidance) Bill 2015; In Committee

6:31 pm

Photo of Nick XenophonNick Xenophon (SA, Independent) Share this | Hansard source

I can agree to disagree with the finance minister in relation to this. I think the best thing to do now is to move the amendment standing in my name. I move amendment (1) on sheet 7789:

(1) Schedule 1, page 7 (before line 10), before item 5, insert:

4A After section 3C

  Insert:

3D Reporting of information about significant global entities

(1) This section applies to a corporate tax entity for an income year if the entity is a significant global entity (within the meaning of the Income Tax Assessment Act 1997) for the income year.

(2) The entity must, as soon as practicable after the end of the income year, give the Commissioner a general purpose financial report for the income year.

(3) For the purposes of this section, a general purpose financial report must be prepared and audited in relation to the entity in accordance with:

  (a) accounting principles and auditing principles; or

  (b) if such principles do not apply—commercially accepted principles, relating to accounting and auditing, that ensure the statements give a true and fair view of the financial position and performance of that entity (or that entity and the other entities on a consolidated basis).

An expression used in this subsection that is also used in the Income Tax Assessment Act 1997 has the same meaning as in that Act.

(4) The Commissioner must give a copy of the report to the Australian Securities and Investments Commission.

I have spoken about this amendment in the context of the second reading contribution. This relates to the reporting of information about significant global entities. It applies to a corporate tax entity for an income year if the entity is a significant global entity—that is, an entity that has revenue of $1 billion a year or more in terms of its global operations. It would also apply to an Australian based company if it has that revenue of $1 billion a year or more, and it mirrors the definitional framework in the government's own bill in this regard. If a company is an Australian based company and has a revenue of $1 billion a year or more, then it ought to be big enough and ugly enough to provide these accounts.

I do not buy the arguments that I reluctantly accepted that relate to companies of $100 million or more in terms of being part of a supply chain arrangement with Coles or Woolworths. Once you get to $1 billion, there cannot be any question of the ability to provide general purpose accounts rather than special purpose financial reports, which are scant in their detail. This would apply to companies such as Apple, Microsoft and Google. These companies ought to be able to provide general purpose accounts to the same level of detail that a publicly listed company, which may be much smaller, would give to the Australian Securities Exchange. They would be readily available information. That is why I commend this amendment. I know the Australian Greens have a similar amendment, but its threshold is lower at $500 million.

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