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(Australian Associated Press)
A clampdown on tax avoidance by big corporations and wealthy individuals has allowed the Australian Taxation Office to rake in an extra $5.6 billion over the past two years.
ATO deputy commissioner Mark Konza says the authority has been better able to scrutinise the tax paid by major companies since its Tax Avoidance Task Force was established in 2016.
The top 1000 multinational and public corporations, along with 320 private groups and wealthy individuals who control them, have been in the task force’s sights.
“This means that the ATO is running a fine-toothed comb over two-thirds of all corporate tax paid in any given year,” Mr Konza said.
More than 700 taxpayers have now been reviewed or audited through the ATO’s greater focus on wealthy people and associated groups.
Another 71 audits are under way into 67 multinational corporations.
Some companies are also being reviewed based on Australia’s multinational anti-avoidance law and diverted profits tax measures.
The ATO has credited the multinational anti-avoidance law, which came into effect in late 2015, with 44 taxpayers bringing Australian-sourced sales back onshore.
“More than $7 billion in sales annually is expected to be returned to the Australian tax base,” Mr Konza said.
“We have also seen more than half a billion dollars in extra GST paid in 2017-18 as a result of some global entities restructuring.”
Along with retrieving more money from would-be tax dodgers, the ATO has collected $10 billion in liabilities – or debts – in the past two years.
The Tax Avoidance Task Force was created through $679.9 million in federal government funding.
Labor spokesman Matt Thistlethwaite said the opposition wholeheartedly supports the ATO’s efforts to prevent tax avoidance, but wants the coalition to do more on the issue.
He has urged the government to embrace Labor’s policies to close debt-deduction loopholes and shine a light on tax havens, which it estimates would generate $3 billion of revenue in the medium-term.