Is it fair that Australians pay more tax on one beer than the oil and gas industry pays in petroleum tax on offshore gas in a year? Might a 10% royalty guaranteeing annual revenue of between $1.3 billion and $2.8 billion be a better way to go? These are the issues rightly raised by a report just out by the McKell Institute called ‘Harnessing the Boom.’ It was written by Richard Holden, a Professor of Economics at UNSW Business School. There are some great resources on a campaign site over this issue here. One of our colleagues at Tax Justice Network Australia Jason Ward takes up the story for us here:
The Tax Justice Network Australia (TJN-Aus) has had major wins in getting the Australian government to tackle corporate tax dodging. Currently TJN-Aus is running a campaign to push the government to reform the primary tax on oil and gas production, the Petroleum Rent Resource Tax (PRRT).
The current boom in exports of liquified natural gas (LNG) will catapult Australia over Qatar as the world’s largest exporter. However, on the same volume in 2019/20 Qatar will generate over $26 billion in royalties will Australia will earn nothing in PRRT from LNG. Qatar will also earn significantly more revenue from dividends from state-owned companies and corporate income tax payments.
As governments (slowly) get to grips with the fact that tax havens are inflicting great harm on economies and democracies across the globe, facilitating mega amounts of tax dodging, and vast movements of criminal money by way of the secrecy services some of them offer, the question of our times is how we deal with them. Attempts to create tax haven blacklists (in order to potentially implement sanctions for non-cooperative jurisdictions) have so far been farcical as we’ve noted many times, most recently commenting on the European Union’s current work compiling its own blacklist system, here and here. So far the criteria for inclusion in tax haven blacklists has been weak, such lists have been ineffective and it’s been far too easy for some of the world’s worst offenders to wriggle their way out of them, or simply be big and bad enough not to worry about being included in the first place – for example – Tax Haven USA. If the EU, or anyone else really wanted to do this properly, the work’s already been done for them – with the best objective ranking available – the Tax Justice Network’s Financial Secrecy Index.
By Alex Cobham
There are now a range of estimates of the global scale of tax avoidance. These include:
- the $600 billion annual tax loss estimated by IMF researchers Crivelli et al. (2015; 2016), which divides roughly into $400 billion of OECD losses and $200 billion elsewhere;
- the $100 billion annual tax losses that UNCTAD’s World Investment Report 2015 estimated for developing countries due only to conduit FDI investment through ‘tax havens’;
- the $100 billion to $240 billion globally that OECD researchers estimate;
- the $130 billion globally that we have estimated as annual losses due to avoidance by US multinationals only; and so on.
New figures published today by the Tax Justice Network provide a country-level breakdown of the estimated tax losses to profit shifting by multinational companies. Applying a methodology developed by researchers at the International Monetary Fund to an improved dataset, the results indicate global losses of around $500 billion a year. The figures appear in a study published today by the United Nations University World Institute for Development Economics Research (UNU-WIDER, in Helsinki).
The problems with measuring tax systems SPERI
‘In debates about tax policy we need to de-emphasise the role of economics and measurement and rekindle the politics’. Blog by TJN’s Nicholas Shaxson, author of Treasure Islands: Tax Havens and the Men Who Stole the World.
The Despot’s Guide to Wealth Management – On the International Campaign against Grand Corruption
New book by Jason Sharman
How human rights law has been used to guarantee corporations a ‘right to profit The Conversation
Read about Tax Justice and Human Rights here.