The Multinational Tax Avoidance bill which passed through the Senate this week contains a ticking time bomb for many large Australian family businesses. Under the legislation, privately owned businesses with taxable incomes which exceed $100 million will have their information published by the ATO, a situation which could lead to sensitive commercial information being publicly available, potentially damaging the value of those businesses. Some are even expressing the fear that having this information publicly available could threaten the personal safety of the family business owners, as criminals could target them for extortion or kidnapping. Those businesses affected would do well to closely examine how they can obtain an exemption from having to comply with these rules.
The Senate has this week passed the Multinational Tax Avoidance Bill, with amendments that opposition assistant treasurer Andrew Leigh says will “restore tax transparency”. Mr Leigh said the amendments have “reversed the Government’s shameful attempt to gut Australia’s tax transparency laws”. Under the amendments, private companies that earn more than $100 million a year will continue to be included in transparency reports published by the Australian Taxation Office. Importantly, however, companies will be able to apply to the Commissioner of Taxation for an exemption where there is a genuine risk that disclosure will affect sensitive commercial negotiations.