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  • Public information

    Additional data sources will help the community understand the tax compliance of large corporate groups

    The public often look to the tax affairs of specific large corporate groups to determine how well the tax system is working. The privacy provisions under which we operate mean we generally can’t provide information to the public about specific taxpayers. This has meant the public have had to rely on other materials such as statutory accounts issued by a company as the main source of information about its tax affairs. In rare instances, further information has become available when a company has disputed their tax affairs in court.

    Reforms have provided additional sources of information to the public. These include:

    • the Report of entity tax information – the annual corporate tax transparency publication of total income, taxable income and tax payable of corporate tax entities earning over $100 million (Australian public and foreign owned) or $200 million (Australian-owned resident private)
    • the requirement for significant global entities to provide general purpose financial statements to us and for those statements to be published by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC), where they haven’t already been lodged with ASIC
    • enhancements to the accounting framework applying to uncertain tax positions.

    Many large corporate groups have already started providing much more detailed information about their taxation affairs to help inform public debate. Over 180 large corporate groups have signed up to the Board of Taxation’s Voluntary Tax Transparency Code; these companies are responsible for over two-thirds of corporate tax payable. Over 175 of these, representing a large proportion of corporate activity in Australia, have issued transparency reports.

    Audited accounts may contain information on material book to tax adjustments in preparing the provision for tax. Accounting standards on disclosure of uncertain tax positions have also been strengthened. This means companies must estimate their exposure on all matters it is probable we will dispute.

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    Last modified: 02 Feb 2021QC 53280