Centre Alliance Senator Rex Patrick is questioning the Tax Commissioner’s reluctance to provide details to the Senate of financial sector companies that have breached tax law.

On Tuesday the 14th of August, Senator Patrick moved a motion ordering the Tax Commissioner to table details of large companies in the financial sector that have not complied with tax law over the past two decades.

With the support of Labor and the Greens, the Senate accepted and served the Order to the Commissioner.

The Commissioner, through the Finance Minister, tabled a preliminary response to the Order late last night. The Commissioner claims that disclosure would hurt the “effective and efficient administration of the taxation system”.

“I hold great respect for Commissioner Chris Jordan but in this instance he is being somewhat alarmist,” Rex said.

In 2013, a previous Tax Commissioner was ordered to supply corporate tax information to the Senate. The Commissioner advanced an argument relating to privacy and confidentiality but the Senate eventually pressed the Order and the information was duly provided.

It is also noteworthy that recent changes to tax legislation requires large companies to disclose total income, taxable income and tax payable of over 2,000 corporate tax entities.

“It’s clear the world doesn’t implode when top-level tax information is disclosed.”

The Senate Order only requires the Tax Commissioner to disclose names of those companies that have behaved unlawfully.

The Commissioner further suggested in his letter to the President of the Senate that the Senate could request the Inspector-General of Taxation investigate the matter.

“The Senate does not subcontract its oversight responsibilities,” said Rex.

“It is absolutely reasonable for the Senate, and indeed the public, to have visibility to companies that have broken the law. This is particularly the case noting the current Financial Services Royal Commission has revealed abhorrent and unlawful conduct by some participants of the financial sector.”

“Noting recent criticisms of ASIC’s and APRA’s failures in relation to the financial sector, the Senate also has a genuine right to examine the cosiness of the Tax Office to these companies in breach.”

“That the Senate has the power to make the current Order is beyond question. The Commissioner would be well-advised to drop his objection and comply with the order.”

The Senate has coercive powers to enforce this order.
Centre Alliance Senator Rex Patrick