Oz Blog News Commentary

Release your tax returns and other random thoughts on tax

April 12, 2016 - 20:14 -- Admin

If I were Bill Shorten I’d release my tax returns for the last few years and call on Turnbull to do the same.

Malcolm Turnbull is an investor in tax havens and a former merchant banker. That must explain his very strong campaigns against the greed of tax avoiders and the avarice of financial institutions.

The Panama Papers reminded me of something former Atlanta Mayor Andrew Young said. “Nothing is illegal if 100 businessmen decide to do it.”

I have previously suggested through the letters pages of the Canberra Times that in light of the Panama Papers the Australian Prime Minister should reveal his investment and tax arrangements in or though the Cayman Islands. (Letters, 9 April.) His British counterpart, David Cameron, is now releasing his tax returns for the last 6 years and my suggestion would be for Malcolm Turnbull to also release his tax returns to assuage any concerns about his Cayman Islands investments.

The debate in the UK has now engulfed the Executive Chair of Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs who until 2004 was a partner in a major law firm which acted for entities associated with David Cameron and his father and advised clients on how to reduce their tax.

I note that in Australia the current Commissioner of Taxation, Chris Jordan, was a partner in charge of the New South Wales Tax and Legal Division of accounting and tax advisory firm KPMG. It appears Mr Jordan may have been an adviser to big business on their tax affairs or had oversight of those who did.

I am not suggesting any untoward activity. It just seems to me appropriate for the Commissioner to allay any concerns we taxpayers might have about his prior practice as an adviser to big business by advising the public about the nature of his previous work with KPMG and if this involved tax avoidance arrangements and whether under his watch any arrangements involved tax havens.

The Commissioner might also like to explain if the recent round of 3000 tax officer redundancies with another 1700 to come have had or will have any impact on the ATO’s capacity to police tax avoidance by big business.