LNP 'trying to claim credit' says Swan

FORMER treasurer Wayne Swan has savaged the Coalition for trying to "claim the credit” for Labor's crackdown on corporate tax dodgers.

The Australian Taxation Office confirmed Thursday it has demanded $2.9 billion in unpaid tax from seven multinational companies, including $447 million from Rio Tinto.

In response, Treasurer Scott Morrison and Revenue and Financial Services Minister Kelly O'Dwyer issued a joint statement claiming the credit.

Mr Morrison said "our” laws are "having an impact”, while Ms O'Dwyer said the "Australian people expect all corporations to pay the right amount of tax”.

Mr Swan rubbished this response as hypocritical.

"The genesis was changes I made in 2012 and then a very big package in the 2013 budget, most of which was knocked out by the Coalition when they came into government,” Mr Swan told a news website.

Mr Swan's measures were opposed by the Abbott-led opposition, and several were dismantled when it took office.

The Coalition also reduced funding and staffing at the ATO.

Under Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, the Coalition passed two anti-avoidance laws. The first, which closed a profit reporting loophole, was heavily amended by Labor and the Greens. The second, last week's so-called "Google Tax” bill, won't come into force until July 1.

The Turnbull government also reversed the ATO staffing and funding cuts with a new tax avoidance taskforce, announced in last year's budget.

Mr Swan said the current ATO investigation, culminating in Thursday's $2.9 billion tax bill, was "accelerated” by the appearance of Tax Commissioner Chris Jordan before a 2015 Senate inquiry chaired by Labor's Sam Dastyari.

"Basically, the Tax Commissioner's been using powers that were beefed up by Labor,” he said.

The ATO declined the website's request for comment.

RAY BLISS



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