|Chris Jordan was
also in the Global Tax 50
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
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.