Skip to content

Voluntary tax transparency code

Tax transparency code

On 3 May 2016, the Government announced the release of the Board’s final report on a tax transparency code.

Background

As part of the 2015 Budget, on 12 May 2015 the Treasurer wrote to the Board of Taxation to ask it to lead the development of a new code on greater public disclosure of tax information by businesses, particularly large multinationals.

On 14 July 2015, the Treasurer issued the terms of reference for this project.

Terms of reference

  1. The Board is requested to develop a voluntary code for the increased public disclosure of tax information by businesses, particularly large multinationals, by May 2016.
  2. The actions of a few businesses, particularly large multinationals engaging in aggressive tax avoidance, have tarnished the reputations of many businesses that are doing the right thing.
  3. Some large businesses have responded by releasing detailed information about their tax affairs. The Government would like more large businesses to publicly disclose their tax affairs to highlight those that are paying their fair share and to encourage all businesses not to engage in aggressive tax avoidance.
  4. For some Australian-owned private companies, mandatory or voluntary public disclosure may not be appropriate given the commercial sensitivity, privacy and personal security concerns of the ultimate owners.
  5. Australia already has laws that mandate public disclosure by large companies for their turnover, taxable income and tax paid. A voluntary code for greater disclosure will help build confidence in the majority of Australian businesses that do the right thing.
  6. A voluntary code will provide a framework for large businesses to take the lead, to become more transparent and help educate the public about their compliance with Australia’s tax laws.
  7. In designing the voluntary code, the Board should have regard to:
    7.1. Australian experiences with voluntary disclosure regimes;
    7.2. International experiences with voluntary disclosure of tax information;
    7.3. The need to strike an appropriate balance between promoting community confidence in the tax regime through the release of appropriate information and the commercial sensitivity of some taxpayer information;
    7.4. Compliance costs for taxpayers.
  8. The Board should work with businesses, Treasury and the ATO to develop within 12 months a voluntary code on increased public disclosure of tax information by large businesses. The Government will monitor progress and take further action if required.
  9. In undertaking these reviews, the Board should consult with relevant stakeholder groups as appropriate.
  10. It is envisaged that a small team within Treasury will work with the Board as required.

Working Group

Mr Michael Andrew, chair of the Board of Taxation, is leading the Board’s work on development of the transparency code. Mr Andrew will be assisted by a number of other Board members, including Mrs Ann-Maree Wolff, Mr John Emerson and Mr Neville Mitchell.

A working group has been established. Members include representatives of the Australian Taxation Office, Treasury, academia, businesses and professional firms. Additional members may be appointed.

Status of the project

Consultation Paper

Initial consultation was held in August and September 2015 to allow interested parties to contribute to the early development of the tax transparency code.

The Board released a Consultation Paper [PDF 595KB |RTF 584KB] on the tax transparency code on 11 December 2015. The Board developed this Consultation Paper to invite submissions and facilitate stakeholder consultation on the issues raised in accordance with the terms of reference. The Board requested that submissions be made by 29 January 2016.

Board’s Report

The Board has completed its development of a tax transparency code and provided its report to Government on 16 February 2016.

Further information on this report can be obtained from the Board of Taxation Secretariat on (02) 6263 4366.

Further information

For further information about the Board’s work on the tax transparency code, please contact taxboard@treasury.gov.au.

Other resources

Voluntary Corporate Disclosure Code – Media release by the Hon Joe Hockey MP, Treasurer, 12 May 2015

Letter to the Chair of the Board of Taxation, 12 May 2015

Submissions received

SubmitterDownload
ACU Thomas More Law SchoolDOCX 812KB
ACU Thomas More Law SchoolPDF 202KB
AFMAPDF 140KB
BHP BillitonPDF 95KB
BramblesPDF 77KB
Business Council of AustraliaPDF 346KB
Chartered Accountants Australia and New ZealandPDF 305KB
CMEPDF 119KB
CTAPDF 473KB
Ernst & YoungPDF 76KB
Greenwoods & Herbert Smith FreehillsPDF 291KB
Group of 100PDF 68KB
Group of 100DOC 83KB
Infrastructure Partnerships AustraliaPDF 372KB
KPMGPDF 63KB
Minerals Council of AustraliaPDF 363KB
PricewaterhouseCoopersPDF 136KB
Property Council of AustraliaPDF 391KB
Tax Justice Network AustraliaDOCX 2MB
Tax Justice Network AustraliaPDF 74KB
Viva Energy AustraliaPDF 307KB

Related resources