$15b small business tax debt in sights

Original article by Tom McIlroy
The Australian Financial Review – Page: 7 : 6-Jan-20

Inspector-General of Taxation and Taxation Ombudsman Karen Payne is conducting a probe into the Australian Taxation Office’s $45 billion debt book. Payne’s examination includes the investigation of around $15 billion in small business debt to the ATO, with Payne saying her review will help to identify which areas of the economy are seeing increases in undisputed debt collections. As well as her review of the ATO’s debt book, Payne’s office is also investigating the tax administration of deceased estates.

CORPORATES
AUSTRALIAN TAXATION OFFICE

Google settles $481m tax brawl

Original article by David Swan
The Australian – Page: 3 : 19-Dec-19

The Australian Taxation Office’s deputy commissioner Mark Konza has welcomed Google’s decision to settle a long-running tax dispute. The technology company has agreed to pay $481m to resolve the dispute, which centred on tax audits covering the period from 2008 to 2018. A Google spokeswoman has emphasised that the settlement does not constitute an admission of liability. Google’s Australian earnings topped $1bn in 2018, but it paid just $25.6m in tax. Konza says the ATO will pursue at least one other technology company.

CORPORATES
GOOGLE INCORPORATED, GOOGLE AUSTRALIA PTY LTD, AUSTRALIAN TAXATION OFFICE, ATLASSIAN CORPORATION PLC, FACEBOOK INCORPORATED

No senior minister but mega department will work

Original article by Olivia Caisley
The Australian – Page: 4 : 12-Dec-19

The Department of Agriculture, Water & the Environment will be formally established on 1 February, as part of the federal government’s plans to streamline the bureaucracy. The existing ministers for each portfolio – Bridget McKenzie, Sussan Ley and David Littleproud – will remain in these roles, and McKenzie has confirmed that the new department will not have a senior minister. She is confident that the three ministers will work well together and that the new department will deliver "real outcomes" for regional communities.

CORPORATES
AUSTRALIA. DEPT OF AGRICULTURE AND WATER RESOURCES, AUSTRALIA. DEPT OF THE ENVIRONMENT AND ENERGY

ATO labels 102 companies as systemic non-payers of tax

Original article by Tom McIlroy
The Australian Financial Review – Page: 8 : 12-Dec-19

Data from the Australian Taxation Offices shows that the combined tax take from the nation’s 2,200 largest corporate taxpayers was $52.3bn in 2017-18. The data shows that 710 companies did not pay any tax during the financial year, while deputy commissioner Rebecca Saint says 102 companies across all sectors of the economy are "systemic non-payers". She notes that tax receipts from oil and gas companies will increase in coming years, after many booked losses during the construction phase of their projects.

CORPORATES
AUSTRALIAN TAXATION OFFICE

Services won’t improve, says union

Original article by Rosie Lewis
The Australian – Page: 6 : 6-Dec-19

The Community & Public Sector Union has criticised the federal government’s decision to streamline the bureaucracy. CPSU national secretary Melissa Donnelly warns that reducing the number of government departments will do nothing to improve the provision of government services. Donnelly notes that the Coalition has axed 18,908 public service jobs since it gained office in 2013, and she has urged the government to lift the average staffing level cap.

CORPORATES
COMMUNITY AND PUBLIC SECTOR UNION, AUSTRALIAN LABOR PARTY, AUSTRALIA. DEPT OF THE PRIME MINISTER AND CABINET

Get lean: PM wields the axe

Original article by Simon Benson, Geoff Chambers
The Australian – Page: 1 & 6 : 6-Dec-19

The Coalition has reduced the number of federal government departments from 18 to 14 as part of a broader overhaul of the public service. Amongst other things, the Department of Communications will be merged with the infrastructure portfolio, while the energy and resources portfolio will be folded into the industry and science portfolio. Five departmental secretaries will be retrenched as a result of the overhaul, while sources have indicated that the Coalition also intends to slash the number of government agencies.

CORPORATES
AUSTRALIA. DEPT OF THE PRIME MINISTER AND CABINET, AUSTRALIA. DEPT OF COMMUNICATIONS AND THE ARTS, AUSTRALIA. DEPT OF INFRASTRUCTURE AND REGIONAL DEVELOPMENT, AUSTRALIA. DEPT OF INDUSTRY, INNOVATION AND SCIENCE, AUSTRALIA. DEPT OF AGRICULTURE AND WATER RESOURCES, COMMUNITY AND PUBLIC SECTOR UNION

$9b tax hole linked to Airbnb-style deals

Original article by Duncan Hughes
The Australian Financial Review – Page: 9 : 6-Nov-19

The Australian Taxation Office estimates that some property owners have undeclared income of more than $70,000 a year in earnings from short-term rental platforms such as Airbnb. This has contributed to an income tax shortfall of around $9bn. The ATO has used data-matching technology to compare income from tax returns with financial records provided by rental platforms. The ATO will write to home owners asking them to review their tax return, their income earned and the expenses they have claimed.

CORPORATES
AUSTRALIAN TAXATION OFFICE, AIRBNB AUSTRALIA PTY LTD, STAYZ PTY LTD, HOMEAWAY.COM INCORPORATED, FLIPKEY, BOOKING.COM (AUSTRALIA) PTY LTD, IBISWORLD PTY LTD, BNBGUARD

Explosive, gobsmacking statements by Tax Commissioner raise serious concerns about democracy, the rule of law and cover-up

Original article by Ken Phillips
Self-Employed Australia – Page: Online : 28-Oct-19

Tax Commissioner Chris Jordan used an appearance before the Senate Economics Legislation Committee on 23 October to refute claims that the Australian Taxation Office can recover unpaid tax debts by taking money directly out of people’s bank accounts. The allegation was aired in advertisements funded by the ‘Right to Know’ campaign. Jordan says the ATO only takes action such as garnishee orders as a last resort, but there is documented evidence that the ATO emptied at least one person’s bank account and did not inform them of this until 10 days later. The ATO must be reigned in, but this is unlikely to happen until the federal government considers that the ATO is doing damage to it politically.

CORPORATES
AUSTRALIAN TAXATION OFFICE, AUSTRALIA. SENATE ECONOMICS LEGISLATION COMMITEE

Watchdog to probe surge in tax debts

Original article by Damon Kitney
The Australian – Page: 1 & 2 : 28-Oct-19

The Inspector-General of Taxation & Taxation Ombudsman, Karen Payne, says her office will investigate the causes of a sharp increase in unpaid tax debt, which has risen from $19.2bn to $26.2bn over the last four years. Meanwhile, there was a 13 per cent increase in the number of complaints lodged with the IGTO about the Australian Taxation Office in the last year. This followed a series of media reports which accused the ATO of excessive use of garnishee notices to recover unpaid tax debts, particularly against small businesses.

CORPORATES
AUSTRALIA. OFFICE OF THE INSPECTOR-GENERAL OF TAXATION AND TAXATION OMBUDSMAN, AUSTRALIAN TAXATION OFFICE

ATO seeks to bankrupt Huang Xiangmo

Original article by Neil Chenoweth
The Australian Financial Review – Page: 3 : 18-Oct-19

The Australian Taxation Office is seeking to have Chinese billionaire Huang Xiangmo declared bankrupt. Huang, who is at the centre of a New South Wales corruption investigation into political donations, is said to owe the ATO some $140.9m in tax; it will seek to take legal action in Hong Kong as part of its efforts to recover the money. Huang’s Australian residence visa was cancelled in December, and his lawyers claim that he cannot be the subject of a bankruptcy order as the ATO would need to show that he is "personally present or ordinarily present in Australia".

CORPORATES
AUSTRALIAN TAXATION OFFICE, FEDERAL COURT OF AUSTRALIA