Ben Eltham | (The Conversation) | – – There was a fascinating moment towards the end of Wednesday’s hearings of …
Ben Eltham | (The Conversation) | – – There was a fascinating moment towards the end of Wednesday’s hearings of …
The free tax ride for religious institutions in Australia is about 400 years past its use by date, argues Brian Morris. In 1587, Dr John Bridges coined the phrase “A fool and his money are soon parted”. Just 14 years later Queen Elizabeth the First issued her 1601 Statute on Charities making “the advancement ofMore
As Canadian prime minister, Justin Trudeau announces that Canada will impose a tax on carbon emissions starting in 2018, ex-NASA GISS director Dr. James E. Hansen and Our Children’s Trust announce they are taking the US Government to court for climate change damage. Read about the burden we are leaving our young people here and watch the video below…
Amid calls to publish his tax returns, experts say the billionaire Republican candidate may legally have nothing to pay.
According to a 2015 headline in Rupert Murdoch’s rag, The Australian, “No, the rich don’t pay a ‘fair share’ of tax. They pay all of it.” The hypocrisy of a Murdoch-owned entity discussing tax is overwhelming. In 1999 the BBC published an article clearly setting out Murdoch’s well-known strategy for tax avoidance. “in the four…
At least 800 Australians have been linked with the Panamanian firm Mossack Fonseca, and there could be many more. And this firm is just one of a multitude of similar firms operating similar tax secrecy networks in similar jurisdictions to Panama.
New report found the average rate of tax paid was 16.2 per cent – or less than the income tax rate paid by a working nurse in Australia.
Religious groups are not taxable. No wonder there’s no transparency in how their billions of dollars are spent.
Uber, the Silicon Valley tech giant valued at over $60 billion, paid an astonishingly low tax rate of just … hang on a second! Is that a little puppy? It is! Oh my god it’s so cute! Come and look at this. I’m going to die it’s so cute. Look how small he is. He’s so tiny! Come here you little thing.
Figures released from the Senate inquiry into corporate tax avoidance found that Uber’s tax as a percentage of its earnings was just. Stop it! No! They’re delivering puppies? What actual puppies? To workplaces? Fuck off! Let’s order one right now. That. Is. So. Adorable. This is too much!
Uber, which employs 20,000 people in Australia, responded to the enquiry by saying. Who’s a good boy? Yes you are! Yes you are! Look at those little floppy ears. Where’s your ball? Who’s got your ball? Who’s got your ball? Come and have a cuddle.
So much for big reforms. Don’t expect Malcolm Turnbull to present a bold tax plan. He’s too scared of putting voters offside.
The most shocking thing in the treasury analysis delivered to Scott Morrison on January 25 isn’t the finding that a cut in income tax funded by a lift in the goods and services tax would boost the economy not at all.
After months of phony war the government has gone back to square one. It’s starting to become a serious problem for the PM, writes Ben Eltham. Just weeks into the adventure, the Turnbullian crusade for tax reform seems to have run into trouble. Malcolm Turnbull’s new-look government returned from the summer break full of vimMore
By Sam Pizzigati | (Inequality.org) | – – Our world’s billionaires don’t merit either their billions, the Oxfam economist Didier …
Before the last election Tony Abbott, like John Howard before him, promised there would be no change to the GST. Joe Hockey and Andrew Robb reiterated that promise in their final update on election commitments published on September 5, 2013. It confirms once and for all that: There are no cuts to education, health, defence…
Scott Morrison says Australia relies more on income tax than all other OECD countries except Denmark. Is this correct? ABC Fact Check investigates.
Heightened worries: Tax Commissioner Chris Jordan. Photo: Bradley Kanaris
An energy company operating in Australia transferred more than $11 billion to the low-tax jurisdiction of Singapore in a single year, heightening concerns that Australia is being duped by tax-minimising multinationals.
The extraordinary scale of funds being moved out of the country by individual companies is revealed in an internal Australian Tax Office memo, obtained under Freedom of Information.
It lists 10 companies that channelled a combined $31.4 billion from Australia to Singapore in the 2011-2012 financial year.
An estimated $60 billion in so-called “related parties” transactions went from Australia to tax havens in the same year
Tax Commissioner Chris Jordan and a number of his senior colleagues have recently flagged concerns about cross-border transfers and intra-company refinancing and the potential that they are linked to tax avoidance.
The Tax Office is particularly concerned about mining and energy companies extracting Australian minerals which have established “marketing hubs” in Singapore that appear to have little use other than as a destination for shifted profits.
An ATO spokeswoman said the issue was currently under investigation. “I can confirm that we currently have 15 audits of marketing hubs under way with more ready to go,” she said.
Treasurer Joe Hockey is considering the introduction of a so-called “Google tax” but some experts fear the problem of tax avoidance and aggressive minimisation runs far deeper than the tech sector. Fairfax Media revealed this week that the 900 biggest companies in Australia reduced their tax bills by a combined $25 billion via deductions, exemptions and other concessions.
The names of the companies have been redacted in the document, which is correspondence between the Singapore revenue authorities and their counterparts at the ATO, but a push is under way to use the powers of a Senate committee force the names of the multinationals into the public arena.
Hearings of the inquiry into corporate tax avoidance by the Senate economic references committee begin on Wednesday and will include witnesses from multinational miners Glencore and Adani, as well as Google, Apple, Microsoft and News Corp.
Representatives of the big four accountants will also front the hearings as will former Tax Office adviser Martin Lock, whose submission to the inquiry details how “tax planners” engaged by corporations likely cost the public “billions of dollars” in lost revenue. “The difference between judicious ‘tax planning’ and ‘tax avoidance’ is usually blurred,” he said.
The Tax Justice Network and the union United Voice, which co-funded a report that showed the biggest Australian companies pay nowhere near the 30 per cent tax rate, believe the committee has the power to force the Tax Office to reveal the names of the companies moving billions of dollars offshore.
“We understand the committee can make those documents public. Then people could know who the companies are that are shifting billions offshore and it would be up to those companies to explain why,” said the Uniting Church’s Mark Zirnsak, a member of Tax Justice.
David O’Byrne, the national secretary of United Voice, said: “It is inappropriate that one company had $11 billion of related party transactions through Singapore and the Australian people do not know what company that is.
“If companies are claiming $25 billion of tax deductions from Australia’s budget then we at least deserve to know who they are. If they won’t identify themselves then it is up to the Senate committee to reveal them.
“Until the ATO confirms who is responsible for this activity it is a slur on all companies.”
That’s not true. The paper leaves out economically responsible options for tax reform, and glosses over significant distortions in our present tax system.
To its credit, it does say, “Australia’s aggregate tax burden is relatively low compared with other developed countries” (that one must have slipped past the censors). But the clear inference from the paper is that we should re-balance our tax mix away from personal and business income taxes and towards consumption taxes, rather than increasing our public revenue to provide needed public goods and to reduce the budget deficit.
The glaring omission is a carbon tax, described by Nobel Laureate economist Joseph Stiglitz as a “no brainer”, but dismissed in the politicised foreword to the document as “a drag on growth”, without any evidence or argument.
The conventional economic idea of applying taxes to cover negative externalities – that is, to bring to account costs such as pollution – gets short shrift in the paper. Rather than being described as a means of reflecting true costs, such taxes are described as “a way to change behaviour… as a way of encouraging behaviour deemed socially desirable”.
That is to suggest they belong to some “soft left” agenda of social engineering, rather than as an economic instrument to influence efficient resource allocation.
It’s unthinkable that the Treasury officials who wrote the paper could produce such a misrepresentation of responsible pricing. This section of the paper must have been written by one of Abbott’s henchmen. It reveals the dead hand of his objection to market-based approaches to climate change – in fact his whole dismissal of the economic problem of climate change.
The other big omission is to ignore the possibility of a resource rent tax, which was a major proposal in the previous government’s tax inquiry, the Henry Review. One can rightly criticise the Rudd-Gillard Government for squibbing on the Henry Review’s recommendation for a strong resource rent tax – their response was too little too late (in fact the strongest criticism should be sheeted to the Howard government for letting many of the benefits of the mining boom pass out of the country).
So long as Australia has a large mining sector, we will be subject to the destabilising effects of mining booms. Coal prices are probably in terminal decline, but there will be booms in iron ore, gas and non-ferrous metals. If we are to avoid the wild ride that has so de-stabilised our economy in past booms and capture a reasonable share of mining revenues, a resource rent tax should be on the table. Otherwise we will go through the same pain of boom and bust again and again.
Although the paper raises the issue of so-called “negative gearing”, which has undoubtedly been one of the factors driving up house prices, it ignores one of its main distortions. That distortion is manifest when people borrow for an investment property, or any depreciable asset for that matter. There is a large degree of double-counting when taxpayers are allowed to count both depreciation and interest payments as deductions against income. In other words, such investment is highly privileged.
The Treasury officials who prepared the paper would know this: it’s basic content in university economics courses. But to raise the distortion in the specific case of “negative gearing” would be to expose the fact that it is a benefit not only for mum-and-dad investors in housing, but for business investors in general, and it wouldn’t do to detract from the message that business is doing it hard because of supposedly high corporate taxes.
The other aspect glossed over is the distortion introduced in capital gains tax when, in 1999, the Howard Government halved the rate of capital gains taxation but removed indexation. This stemmed from the recommendations of the Ralph Review of business taxation, the intention of which was to encourage “financial dynamism” in the Australian economy. That is, to encourage speculation and fast turnover of assets (to the obvious benefit of the finance sector).
Because indexation was abolished, taxes are effectively levied on the inflationary component of nominal capital gains. When inflation is running at around three per cent a year, after 20 years all the benefit of the halving of the rate is lost, and from then on investors are taxed on illusory capital gains.
We have a system that rewards the speculator while punishing long-term investors, but the paper makes no mention of that distortion.
Australia does need tax reform. There is even a case for increasing the rate and extent of the GST, but only if it is part of a comprehensive package aimed at collecting more revenue and making the whole system fairer.
But when tax reform is in the context of revenue neutrality, or even a reduction in overall taxes, and the message is that corporations should pay less tax while consumers pay more, the proposals are politically dead in the water.
Much is made of Australia’s supposedly high rate of corporate tax. But Australian investors have the benefit of imputation offsetting corporate taxes (the paper sees no virtue, however, in giving advantages to domestic investors.)
More basically, the rate of corporate tax is only one factor in business investment decisions. The key factors in such decisions are usually about availability of a skilled workforce and physical infrastructure – which, of course, rely on public expenditure.
The regular World Economic Forum Global Competitiveness Reports tend to show that business tax concessions are the inducement of last resort, offered by countries with low education standards, poor infrastructure and unstable government.
Perhaps Hockey’s push for lower corporate taxes is in realisation that Australia is becoming that type of economy.
A man in Texas has been arrested while trying to pay his tax in $1 bills for “disrupting the operation and efficiency” of the local tax office.
Timothy Norris, 27, was trying to pay his $600 property tax at a tax office in Wichita Falls, Texas, last Wednesday when he was told to leave the office by Tax Assessor Collector Tommy Smyth. Smyth accused Norris of creating a disturbance and disrupting the efficiency of the authority as the latter wanted to pay the whole sum with $1 bills.
However, the banknotes were folded very tightly so it “required tax office personnel approximately six minutes to unfold each bill,” Smyth said, the Times Record News reported.
Unfolding the bills paralyzed work in the office, so Smyth asked Norris to leave. However, the latter refused. The Wichita County Sheriff’s Office deputy who was present as the situation unfolded tried to arrest Norris but he pulled away and the deputy had to use force to detain him.
Norris was charged with criminal trespass and additionally charged with resisting arrest. Norris’ bail was announced as standing at $500 for both charges.
Savage budget cuts to the ABC would mean not only axing some television and radio programs but potentially reducing the number of ABC television channels, managing director Mark Scott said on Tuesday.
Scott told ABC radio in Melbourne that the impact on programs depended on how big the cuts were and, just as critically, when the cuts came into effect. He said coverage of local sport was under scrutiny and he confirmed that local versions of 7.30 were also being looked at.
“If the government cuts money this financial year or next financial year we would have to cut some commissioning of some of our television services [and] radio, and if the cuts were too dramatic we’d have to look at how many channels we’re offering,” he said.
The ABC currently runs five channels: ABC, ABC2, ABC3, ABC News24 and iView. It is believed ABC2, an edgier channel launched in 2005, would be most vulnerable.
Scott’s remarks follow a defiant speech on Monday night, in which he expressed frustration that five months after the May budget, the national broadcaster still did not know what cuts it was facing.
The ABC’s funding was cut by 1% in the budget – or about $120m over four years – which was described as a “down payment” for more savings yet to be announced.
The government’s expenditure review committee is expected to decide on ABC cuts in mid-November. During last year’s election campaign, the Coalition ruled out any cuts to the ABC.
Scott made clear that the ABC would continue to invest heavily in new online and digital services, even if the government made deep cuts and despite organisations such as News Corp arguing it should limits its online expansion because it harmed for-profit providers.
Scott said that in the past, the ABC had found efficiencies which were used to fund innovations such as the catch-up service iView. But if the government essentially pocketed any further savings, the ABC would cut TV and radio programs to continue to invest in digital offerings, because that’s what modern audiences demanded.
Scott was cautious about which programs were vulnerable, saying the ABC was looking at “where we may overservice or we spend a lot of money and the audience is tiny”. Programs mooted include Lateline, local editions of 7.30 and radio programs such as the World Today.
Asked whether the ABC should be covering live women’s soccer, for example, he said local sport “would be hard for us to do” with significant budget cuts.
He also made clear that state-based editions of 7.30. which run on Friday nights, are also likely to change.
“I can’t rule anything in or out, we do have to have everything on the table,” he said.
“Whether it [local television current affairs] can only be delivered in that program or there are other ways we can deliver that, that’s something we are looking at now.”
Answering questions from the audience on Monday night, Scott said there was no guarantee that existing media organisations would manage the dramatic transition underway, and new players often had little concern with public interest beyond their “narrow commercial interests”. This made maintaining funding to the ABC vital.
“That’s a very conservative, sensible thing to do. Why would you weaken the ABC at a time when the rest of the media is in turmoil?”
Jerry Brown took California from a real finacial basket case to profit in 3 years.The coalition invented one that didn’t exist and now are facing a self-fulfilling disaster and trying to blame Labour.
Los Angeles’ Skid Row has been home to thousands of homeless Angelenos for decades, but downtown development has started to squeeze the area one longtime resident described as “a giant outside insane asylum.” The city is hoping that a new 102-unit housing complex for the homeless that opened Wednesday can help alleviate the resulting tension between the area’s destitute outsiders and the new-money lofts and restaurants popping up nearby
At ground level, the Star Apartments building holds the new headquarters of the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services agency that works on homelessness issues, called the Housing for Health division. The building also holds a gym with a track, a library, a garden, and art studios for residents, according to the Los Angeles Times. Residents pay 30 percent of their income — meaning they pay nothing if they have no income — with city housing funds subsidizing the remainder of the rent cost.
102 prefabricated apartment units are stacked atop the Housing for Health headquarters like children’s blocks. The final product is a modern, eye-catching structure. Seen from the street, the apartments jut out at improbable-looking angles from the ground floor facilities. The interior facing views from the apartments look over a concrete valley strung with cable-edged staircases.
More important than the aesthetics is the good the facility will do for its residents and for Skid Row as a whole. It is three times more expensive to leave homeless people on the street than it is to simply give them housing. The stability that a home provides makes it far easier for homeless people to regain their footing socially, economically, and often medically or psychologically.
This approach to ameliorating homelessness is known among advocates as “permanent supportive housing.” The federal government has begun emphasizing permanent supportive housing in the formulas it uses to divvy up funding for state and local housing authorities, signalling that the largest financial player in the fight against homelessness is putting its weight behind the idea. But despite the evidence that permanent housing with supportive services is not only effective but a cost saver, many cities around the country continue to criminalize homelessness, raise ordinances that make it harder to help the homeless, and experiment with policies that simultaneously raise money for the homeless and push panhandlers out of downtown areas.
In Los Angeles, officials hope to further smooth the Star Apartments’ residents’ reintegration into society by locating key wraparound services directly below the beds where they will sleep and kitchens where they will cook for themselves.
With an estimated 5,000 people living on the streets in Skid Row, the Star Apartments have had to be selective over the past year since the building was ready for occupants. “We want to target the people who are costing the taxpayer the most by not being in housing,” Skid Row Housing Trust executive director Mike Alvidrez told Marketplace last year. That means people who are most prone to ending up in emergency rooms and jails.
The Times interviewed one Star Apartments tenant named Bill Fisher who ended up homeless thanks to health problems and “the death of his life partner” at the age when people with mailing addresses start to get flyers from the AARP. “If somebody had told me 10 years ago I’d lose everything and end up homeless, I’d have said you’re nuts,” Fisher told the paper. He has “decorated his studio apartment with art projects, including antique sheet music, his guitar collection and an orchid suspended from a palm frond.”
The promise the building holds for people like Fisher is not invulnerable, however. Even successful permanent supportive housing programs can be undermined by bureaucratic disputes over funding and jurisdictional lines, as a community of formerly homeless families at the border between Atlanta and Fulton County learned recently when they were forced to relocate by County officials.