|Chris Jordan was
also in the Global Tax 50
Jordan does not take tax avoidance and tax evasion lightly,
and introduced in February 2017 the headline-grabbing 'Google
tax', which imposes a 40% penalty rate on large multinationals'
The tax, officially named the diverted profits tax (DPT),
prompted multinationals with transactions and value chains
involving entities in low-tax jurisdictions to ensure their tax
affairs were in the clear. As well as the high penalty rate,
the tax authority also requires the payment to be paid up
front. Multinationals are only able to dispute the charge after
payment. While Jordan has said the best approach to curb tax
avoidance would be within the OECD's BEPS project, he also
believes in unilateral measures such as the DPT.
"We are demonstrating our preparedness to take on taxpayers
and their advisers who are not transparent, uncooperative or
who engage in aggressive game-playing and egregious behaviour,"
Jordan said at a Tax Institute conference in March 2017.
The DPT is not the only trick Jordan has up his sleeve.
During his time as commissioner, the Multinational
Anti-Avoidance Law (MAAL) was introduced, numerous
multinational companies have been audited, and Senate hearings
have been held on MNE tax avoidance. In an official enquiry by
the economics senate committee into corporate tax avoidance in
August, representatives of companies including Apple, Facebook,
Google, IBM and Microsoft were put in the hot seat and
questioned about their tax affairs.
Jordan said the Australian Taxation Office’s
(ATO) focus on the e-commerce sector had brought in more than
A$1 billion ($761 million) from 10 audits, with one
"high-profile taxpayer" forced to pay five times as much tax
after the ATO turned up the heat on the sector.
Jordan has also probed the tax affairs of big mining
companies such as BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto, while global oil
and energy giant Chevron lost an A$300 million appeal in a
landmark transfer pricing case against the ATO in April.
Chevron planned to appeal, but withdrew and settled for an
unknown amount in August – another victory for the
Jordan said in August’s Senate inquiry that
more than 1,000 reviews and audits of companies had been
conducted since the ATO started cracking down on corporate tax
avoidance in recent years, raising more than A$4 billion. He
also said more than A$7 billion worth of sales made in
Australia have also been taxed in Australia for the first time
after the introduction of the MAAL.
"We have achieved results. In doing so we have not only
cleaned up the past, and any back taxes owed, but critically we
have locked in future arrangements to safeguard against the
insipid roundabout of repeated chase and tidy-up scenarios with
taxpayers," he said. "The work of the avoidance taskforce is
now focused on ensuring al remaining companies abide by the
taxpayer alerts and the public guidance we have issued."
Jordan has proven to be no ordinary commissioner, and with
him in office until 2024, no tax dodger can feel safe.