It has come to the attention of the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) that more than 40% of large businesses — those with a turnover of $250 million — paid no tax from 2005 to 2008.
Where are the shock jocks? Where's the hysterical expose on evening TV? One can only assume they are coming: if the culprit was single mums or the unemployed, we'd certainly see a frenzied outrage.
According to the February 17 Sydney Morning Herald, the ATO is set to "come down on big business" for this tax avoidance, and will focus in particular on "high value sectors such as energy and resources".
On February 18, the SMH said: "Business has made it clear that any tax hikes will be frowned upon ... From all the responses, one clear message stood out: 'Do not increase taxes on resource companies'."
Most investors believed Australia "should let market forces [instead] reshape Australia as a resource-centric economy".
It seems the good corporate citizens in the resource sector are saying: "Not only will we not stand for higher taxes, we will prove it by not even paying what we owe now." Well surely the ATO will take no prisoners and sort them out? We wish.
Successive Labor and Liberal governments have both shifted the tax burden away from large business and onto working people and the poor. John Howard's GST, which Labor will not repeal, is the most obvious example.
We need a people's movement to demand an equitable taxation system, one that takes the economy out of the hands of the big corporations and puts it at the service of people and communities. Imagine what the billions of unpaid tax dollars revealed by the ATO could do for schools, hospitals or the transition to a low-carbon economy?
Green Left Weekly is committed to building such a movement that can take on the large businesses, but we need your help. So far this year we've raised just over $25,000 — 50% of our running target. Can you help make up the difference?
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