Microsoft is among the multinational companies being forced to comply with their tax obligations in Australia.
Microsoft is among the multinational companies being forced to comply with their tax obligations in Australia.

Global giants exposed in ATO tax cheat probe

MULTINATIONAL companies including Apple, Microsoft and Facebook have been forced to cough up millions of dollars in unpaid taxes.

The Australian Taxation Office yesterday revealed details of its tough scrutiny on noncomplying businesses and wealthy individuals who had escaped paying their fair share of tax.

Labelled by the ATO as "bloodhound work," the ATO's Tax Avoidance Taskforce which was set up two years ago, has had huge success and reeled in $5.6 billion in extra tax in just two years.

Multinationals, large corporations and wealthy individuals have been forced to meet their tax liabilities after a fine-tooth comb was run over their financial state of affairs.

And some of the worst offending industries included those operating in the e-commerce, mining and pharmaceutical sectors.

The ATO's deputy commissioner Mark Konza said Australians "remained concerned about corporate tax avoidance".

"I want everybody to know we are on to it," he said.

"We were supposed to raise $3.7 billion and we've already raised $5.6 billion in cash so far in two years.

"We have issued over $10 billion worth of assessments and it usually takes two or three years to collect those bills."

The Australian Taxation Office has collected $5.6 billion in extra tax in two years after catching out tax cheats including multinational companies.
The Australian Taxation Office has collected $5.6 billion in extra tax in two years after catching out tax cheats including multinational companies.

There's plenty more businesses likely to be caught red-handed for tax avoidance - the ATO has 71 audits covering 67 multinational corporations underway.

And many multinational companies are being forced to bring their Australian sales back onshore which has delivered $7 billion in sales annually.

Mr Konza said large overseas companies were often the worst offenders when it comes to tax avoidance and the ATO has worked closely with other countries to catch out cheats.

"We are getting more data than ever before that is shared between countries," he said.

"Overseas companies tend to be more aggressive tax avoiders than homegrown companies because they have no particular loyalty to Australia.

"But Australian companies can get involved in tax planning and tax avoidance."

Under Multinational Anti-Avoidance Law 44 taxpayers have been forced to bring their Australian sourced sales back onshore.

This has also helped deliver more than $500 million in extra GST paid in 2017-18.

Diverted Profits Tax reviews has also played a significant part in recouping unpaid taxes.

The Government funded the ATO's Tax Avoidance Taskforce by dishing out nearly $680 million.

This has resulted in a microscope being put on 1000 multinational and public companies, about 320 private group and high-wealth individuals who control them.

The Tax Avoidance Taskforce is due to operate until June 30, 2020.



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