Google wins comparative praise in Aussie tax row

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Google wins comparative praise in Aussie tax row

Apple cops pasting over attitude.

Google's willingness to engage with Australian authorities over its local tax bill has won it a bit of praise from Federal MP Ed Husic, who yesterday attacked Apple for not displaying a similar attitude.

Husic hit out at corporations that use complicated schemes to avoid fulfilling local tax obligations, accusing Apple of not paying its fair share.

Husic’s comments were made as part of a speech in the House of Representatives regarding a bill proposing amendments to the International Tax Agreements Act of 1953.

The Government revealed on Monday that multinationals operating in Australia could be forced to open the books and reveal exactly how they calculate their local tax bills.

The plan is part of a crackdown on transfer-pricing, where charges and resources are re-allocated to other areas of a corporations’ global business to minimise exposure in high-tax countries such as Australia.

The Government's announcement followed revelations last week Apple only paid $40 million in tax locally despite record revenues of $6 billion.

Husic said the amount of tax paid equalled two-thirds of one percent of Apple's turnover, "so apparently they racked up $5.5 billion in costs".

“They have a head office here, but you wouldn’t know it because they have a cloak of invisibility and their management team dodge any scrutiny and refuse to engage on public policy issues," he said.

“So given the lack of work they do, you’d hardly say it costs $5.5 billion to maintain the office.”

Husic compared Apple’s approach to fellow global giant Google, highlighting the latter’s willingness to cooperate with local authorities’ investigations.

Google paid $74,000 in tax in 2011 off revenue of around $201 million, despite analysts estimating the search giant pulled in $1 billion.

“Google at least engages with government, is prepared to talk and be more open about issues, and while there will be a focus on transfer pricing and their tax arrangements, at least they are willing to engage,” Husic said.

“Apple believes they are above scrutiny and that is unacceptable,” he said. “I’m a great admirer of this firm and the impact they’ve had on the way we use IT, but in the past few years, following attempts to get answers on their pricing strategies, my admiration has well and truly dimmed.”

Apple did not respond to a request for comment.

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