More multinationals head for tax haven
US companies appear to be thumbing their noses at a global crackdown on tax avoidance, with share registry group Computershare reporting an increase in multinationals re-incorporating in Ireland.
In a briefing to investors on its regional outlook last week, Computershare said its Irish division had noticed ”further momentum in US and other foreign companies re-incorporating in Ireland”.
The company did not go as far as to say companies were trying to lower their tax, but said it was despite a regulatory environment that ”remains challenging”.
Melbourne-based Computershare operates registries for companies listed on sharemarkets around the world. It has divisions in Ireland, Britain and the Channel Islands as well as Europe and the US.
A Fairfax Media investigation this month revealed tech giant Apple had shifted an estimated $8.9 billion in untaxed profits from its Australian operations to a tax haven structure in Ireland in the past decade.
It comes as G20 governments step up efforts to claw back lost revenue from multinational profit-shifting.
John Passant, from the school of political science and international relations, at the Australian National University, said the trend noted by Computershare was further evidence multinationals did not take global regulators seriously.
”US companies are doing this on the hard-nosed basis that any [regulatory] changes that will be made won’t have an impact on their ability to avoid tax,” he said.
”They think it is going to take a long time for the G20 to take action, or that they are just all talk.”
Computershare noted in the briefing that new tax and compliance reporting rules were providing ”new revenue opportunities”.
The Australian Tax Office is looking into the tax structures of 86 multinationals it suspects of shifting profits overseas.
Credit: The Age