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Global Tax 50 2016: Chris Jordan

13 December 2016

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Commissioner of taxation at the Australian Taxation Office (ATO), Vice chair of the Forum on Tax Administration (FTA) and chair of the Joint International Taskforce on Shared Intelligence and Collaboration (JITSIC)

Chris Jordan
Chris Jordan was also in the Global Tax 50 2015, and  2014

Chris Jordan is not your average commissioner of taxation and has been a fierce adversary of many multinationals operating in Australia.

Jordan took the job of reforming the ATO in January 2013 and has since been trekking through its difficult terrain. As mentioned in a video on the BrisbaneTimes the Commissioner has been hiking his way through tax obstacles, from tackling multinational tax avoidance to making the ride-sharing digital company Uber pay goods and services tax (GST) at the same rate as traditional taxi businesses, to improve Australia's tax system.

Jordan's 'out of the box' thinking is what has made his influence on Australia's tax system so far reaching. In an interview with Switzer, Jordan was described as a great believer in the power of a team work ethic. He believes in fostering interaction and engagement from the business community to create long-standing tax policies. Referring to the ATO as his business, he has set out to redefine taxpayer's relationship with the tax agency. "My business is set up to take money from you," he admitted in the interview. "And often people don't like that." Taking an approach to viewing tax administrations as "dentists", he is re-inventing the ATO's service to be "quick and painless".

As the nation's 12th commissioner, he has been tasked with navigating through political pressure, multinational tax avoidance cases, internal battles with staff and the ATO's digital systems collapsing. Despite all this, Jordan has taken his role with flare. In his third year as commissioner, he released the Reinventing the ATO Blueprint, which has re-established the tax agency's relationship with businesses. This overhaul of the tax system has even extended to the methods that are used to catch tax dodgers. Jordan's push to invest in data and analysis has found him exploring alternative ways of searching for evidence of tax avoidance. This is a part of the ATO's Digital by Default initiative, which was determined by the consultation paper to be vital to advancing the code and compliance.

As a former policeman Jordan takes tax crime very seriously. "I would encourage anyone who is involved in these types of behaviours to come forward - talk to us now because it is only a matter of time before you are caught. You cannot hide outside the system forever," he warned.

Outside his role as the ATO commissioner, Jordan is also the FTA vice chair and chair of the JITSIC. The JITSIC brings together 36 of the world's national tax administrations that have committed to more effective and efficient ways to deal with tax avoidance. Although it was originally established in 2004, it was re-established in 2014 with many new members from across the FTA.

Following the Panama Papers data leak, Jordan spoke out about tax avoidance and evasion under the umbrella of all his roles. At an April 2016 hearing of the Australian Senate Economics References Committee that was investigating corporate tax avoidance, Jordan said the Panama Papers gave the world some examples of very aggressive behaviours, which were at the "extreme" of the spectrum. "I have committed to a strategy which sees us taking purposeful action on both international and domestic fronts. As you know, I am the JITSIC chair, and this leak presented a prime opportunity to demonstrate what you really can achieve when you collaborate internationally. The sheer size of the data release means that no single jurisdiction can tackle this challenge alone," Jordan said.

The Global Tax 50 2016
View the full list and introduction
The top 10 • Ranked in order of influence
1. Margrethe Vestager 2. The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists
3. Brexit 4. Arun Jaitley
5. Jacob Lew 6. Antoine Deltour and Raphaël Halet
7. Operation Zealots 8. Guy Verhofstadt
9. Theresa May (and the 'three Brexiteers') 10. Donald Trump
The remaining 40 • In alphabetic order
Kemi Adeosun Piet Battiau
Elise Bean Monica Bhatia
Allison Christians Tim Cook
Rita de la Feria Caroline Flint
Judith Freedman Chrystia Freeland
Pravin Gordhan Orrin Hatch
Meg Hillier Mulyani Indrawati
Lou Jiwei Paul Johnson
Stephanie Johnston Chris Jordan
Pravind Jugnauth Wang Jun
Jean-Claude Juncker Kathleen Kerrigan
Christine Lagarde Werner Langen
Jolyon Maugham Angela Merkel
Narendra Modi Will Morris
Michael Noonan Grace Perez-Navarro
Platform for the Collaboration on Tax Donato Raponi
Pascal Saint-Amans Heather Self
Robert Stack Tax Justice Network
The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Transparency International
US Committee on Ways and Means Rodrigo Valdés







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