The Australian Senate has just passed the Bill that will tie Australia into the new global system of tax authorities sharing information with each other automatically. Unfortunately, this system, set up through the OECD, currently had not allowed full participation by developing countries.
With help from international colleagues, TJN’s Andres Knobel and Joe Stead, we were able to get Labor party support for an amendment to the Bill that will require de-identified aggregated information about accounts held in Australia to be published each year by the Australian Tax Office (ATO.)
For example, say there were 298 Papua New Guinea (PNG) nationals holding $987 million in Australian accounts, and this information were published. This would allow tax authorities in PNG to check whether they know about that many individuals holding that amount of cash in Australia, based on what is disclosed to them by their own citizens.
If they see large discrepancies they can approach the ATO for assistance to investigate. This will help encourage developing countries to join the automatic exchange of information (AEOI) system, and it will help researchers and others to assess how well the system is working. The Australian Government and the Greens have also supported this amendment (which also implementing the AEOI system sooner than was in the original Bill) — so it has been passed. Australia is the first country in the world to have passed this clause to publicly publish information from the AEOI system.
It is nice to be a global leader on good things, occasionally.
Our next big tasks are getting country-by-country reports of large multinational corporations made public, and a public register of the beneficial ownership of companies.
–Mark Zirnsak, TJN Australia
See also: Global automatic information exchange: a trove of useful new data. Here’s a template for using it.