CASE STUDY: The Panama Papers
11.5 million documents from Panama-based law firm Mossack Fonseca were leaked in 2016. 800 Australian clients are being investigated by the Australian Taxation Office following the data release. Firms named in the leak include BHP Billiton and Wilson Security. Mossack Fonseca is just one firm operating in Panama and similar jurisdictions like the Cayman Islands.
CASE STUDY: LuxLeaks
Documents leaked in 2014 showed that over 300 Australian firms had been involved in routing money through Luxembourg and other low-tax jurisdictions to minimise their Australian tax bills. Firms named in media reports included AMP, Macquarie Group and Lend Lease. The amount of tax avoided through these schemes potentially reaches into billions of dollars.
CASE STUDY: Apple
Apple paid just $80.3 million in Australian tax in 2013-14, despite earning local revenue of over $6 billion. By comparison, the Australian retailer Harvey Norman paid $89 million in tax on $1.5 billion – more tax on just a quarter of the revenue.
CASE STUDY: James Hardie
The building materials firm operates at a net taxable loss in Australia despite average annual profits of over $200 million. In the past two years the company has paid out almost $600 million in dividends to its shareholders. It operates at a loss because it claims tax deductions on annual payments to the compensation fund for victims of its asbestos products.
CASE STUDY: Glencore
A 2014 Fairfax Media investigation alleged the mining giant had paid no tax in Australia over the past three years despite earning revenue of $15 billion, by using a complex series of intra-company loans. Glencore disputed this account by claiming that it had, in fact, paid $400 million in tax on this revenue.
CASE STUDY: Chevron
The Australian Tax Office is currently involved in a legal battle with US oil giant Chevron over allegations it used a series of artificial loans and transfer payments to avoid over $258 million in Australian tax.