Author: Michael West

The option of paying tax – or not

American Express has now paid no net income tax in Australia in eight years. EBay persists with its financial structure entirely contrived to shirk out of paying tax but Google … lights, trumpets, drum-roll … has finally flagged it will close down its central tax avoidance artifice. Yes, multinational profit reporting season is upon us. All those December year end companies are filing and the early signs are that shame is proving only a partially effective form of corporate regulation. Shame, it seems, depends on the capacity for executives and their auditors to feel it, and in the case of eBay,...

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Lawyers, travel bans and money in action over fertilizer group sale

Flamboyant Indian couple Pankaj and Radhika Oswal flew back to Australia to fight their colossal court action against the ANZ two weeks ago. No sooner had they landed than the Tax Office slapped them with a Departure Prevention Order (DPO), stopping the two from leaving the country indefinitely. The Commissioner has a $190 million claim against them. And without venturing into the merits of the case, albeit one for an internal cashless transfer of shares, the travel ban tends to further enshrine the double standard so prevalent in government; the hypocrisy, that is, of treating the establishment more leniently...

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The not-so-cool side of Twitter

Jack Dorsey, the co-founder and chief executive of Twitter, was in Australia earlier this month spruiking his state-of-the-art payments technology, Square. Square sells a bit of plastic which you can stick into your mobile phone to allow small businesses to accept card payments. It is high time somebody did something… because this country is being robbed. Meanwhile, as Dorsey was holding forth about Square, one of his customers in Australia was striving to pay his Twitter advertising bill but was told Twitter would only accept a wire transfer to a company in Singapore. “A wire transfer?” inquired our small...

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Beaconsfield-style disasters should put executive bonuses at risk

It was on this day, 10 years ago, that the Beaconsfield gold mine in Tasmania collapsed, killing 44-year-old Larry Knight and trapping two other miners nearly a kilometre beneath the surface. The two miners, Brant Webb and Todd Russell, were rescued two weeks later as the drama unfolded on television screens around the world. Thousands die around the world in mine accidents every year (and more on how local companies should respond to that follows below) but the Beaconsfield rock-fall became a global media event. Amid the throng of reporters and broadcast crews, veteran Nine Network journalist Richard Carleton suffered a heart...

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Net closing on corporate tax dodging

The Senate’s final report into corporate tax avoidance was due today. Instead, the committee presiding over one of the most successful parliamentary investigations of recent years, has handed down a “second report on corporate tax avoidance”, delaying its final report until September. Frankly, they should keep this thing rolling indefinitely. Its value to public debate, indeed to the public revenue, is inestimable. There is no doubt the sheer publicity will have already shamed multinational corporations and other big avoiders into paying more tax. Eventually billions will be reaped as the world’s largest corporations resile from the spectre of rising...

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The countdown is on.

Who will be ranked as Australia’s biggest tax dodger?


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New Michael West Podcast

Created by PodcastOne, this 3 part series looks into how Australia has gone from one of the cheapest countries in the world for energy to one of the most expensive, and reveals just what has happened with our gas and electricity supply and why we are on the verge of an energy crisis.

Listen to THE ENERGY TRUTH on the PodcastOne website