Lendlease’s tax scam rivals the biggest heists of the century – alongside Rupert Murdoch, Chevron and Macquarie Bank. Yet its effects are spreading from a mere rip on the ATO to the nurses and teachers fund Aware Super which just acquired a chunk of retirement village assets. If Lendlease can ‘double dip’ on tax deductions, then anybody can. It opens up the Tax Office to millions of amended assessments. Michael West reports.
Latest Finance & Tax Stories
Drumroll … trumpets, red carpet: we are rolling out Australia’s Top 40 Tax Dodgers for 2021. Michael West unveils the villains and the heroes of the tax scene, including new gongs this year for Lifetime Achievement Award and UnAustralian of the Year.
Angus Taylor’s rescue package for the oil industry is a testament to governments getting gamed by large corporations. The latest Tax Office transparency data shows oil and gas juggernauts are Australia’s biggest tax cheats, again, yet now they are crying for public subsidies – and getting them – to prop up their oil refineries. Michael West reports on the good and the bad in multinational tax dodging land.
Nine Entertainment chief Hugh Marks dumped for having sex, Christine Holgate chopped at Australia Post over $20,000 in bonuses. Meanwhile, the top brass at Lendlease, having presided over a $500 million tax scam, nonchalantly say they are “continuing to engage with the ATO and await the finalisation of its draft determination”. Michael West reports.
The government is pushing hard to get rid of responsible lending obligations, but it doesn’t seem to realise that removing these obligations will pull the rug out from one of its signature pieces of legislation that Scott Morrison championed when he was treasurer – mandatory comprehensive credit reporting. Elizabeth Minter reports.
While Trump’s tax affairs have been widely reported, statistics show that US authorities are going after the poorest families. Just seven of the 23,400 households earning on average $30 million were audited (0.03%). Yet more than a third of households earning an average $12,600 were audited – nine times the rate for the richest. David Cay Johnston reports.
“Australians know there is no money tree,” said Treasurer Josh Frydenberg at the apogee of the coronavirus in May. But there is. The Reserve Bank is creating money out of thin air. It’s called QE. Michael West reports on the latest fruits to fall from Josh’s fertile money tree, particularly free cash from a hitherto hidden measure in the Budget.
“A serious tax cheat” is how his biographer David Cay Johnston describes Donald Trump. Johnston reports on the New York Times investigation into the finances of the US president, revealing Trump has previously lost two income tax fraud trials.
Hard on the heels of its Westpac sting, Austrac is close to prosecuting Paypal for offences under the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing laws. Michael West reports.
Forget the “average” wage, half of working Australians earn less than $57,000 a year. Rich think they are poor, poor rich. Elizabeth Minter reports on the government’s strange plan to flatten taxes so everybody who earns between $45,000 and $200,000 pays the same rate.
An unprecedented leak of thousands of files from the US government’s most confidential financial intelligence database has shone a spotlight on the world’s $2 trillion-a-year dirty money habit. As Nathan Lynch reveals, this story goes much deeper than the glib “bad bankers” narrative being trotted out by the world’s media.
Women and young people have borne the brunt of the Covid Crisis. They are set to lose again when the Government hands down its $158 billion tax cuts package. Elizabeth Minter reports on the unfairness of the government’s plan for economic recovery.
Radical Republicans rammed the Trump tax law through Congress without a single hearing or Democratic vote. The numbers are in: the rich made out like bandits and the rest got three-fifths of bugger all, writes David Cay Johnston.
There’s little evidence that Australian wine makers are dumping their product, so it appears China’s latest threat to slap tariffs on exporters has more to do with diplomatic relations, writes Marcus Reubenstein.
Coalition spending over the past six years has been nearly half that of the past 40 years and is forecast to drop further. With many services already cut to the bone, even the Parliamentary Budget Office has warned such ‘spending restraint’ is likely to be unsustainable. In a post-pandemic world, bringing forward tax cuts that only benefit high earners would be irresponsible, writes Michael Keating.
Three million Australians have applied for early release of super, with $30 billion already paid out and more than 500,000 members emptying their accounts. Harry Chemay investigates the nation’s retirement system, which costs 10 times more to run than the Tax Office and is a key way for the highly paid to accelerate their wealth.
Developers limit construction in all sorts of ways to maximise profits – from building in stages to reducing the number of properties for sale to letting planning approvals lapse and then reapplying at a higher density. We need to stop buying into the myth that red tape causes high house prices.
KPMG and the other Big Four audit firms are at a crossroads. Their work with multinational clients to skirt ethical accounting rules and regulations has been on show time and time again. They need to decide what they really are: a salesforce or – what they profess to be – an accounting profession.
Thatcherism and Reaganomics led to huge transfers of income and wealth from the poor to the rich. Increasing the tax rates on the highest earners would instead send a powerful message that we really are all in this together.
The tax paid by superannuation funds on their earnings is often less than 10%, much lower than the headline rate of 15%, according to research by the University of Technology Sydney. And in an industry worth $2.7 trillion, this means a huge difference in the tax take for government. Callum Foote reports.
On nearly every economic indicator of wellbeing, Australians have gone backwards in the past six years of the Coalition government. Yet it, and particularly the Finance Minister, is lauded at every turn. Alan Austin takes a closer look at the figures.
Do the grandchildren really pay the debt? The problem with Scott Morrison’s plan for recovery, and MMT
The Government’s plan for economic recovery is wrong. Michael West investigates Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) and the false assumption that the national Budget is like the household budget, or a business. They are already creating new money while denying the proposition that creating new money will expand the economy; preferring to punish casual workers and Arts students, and pursue austerity instead.
In 2018, when Westpac executives skimped on embedding proper controls to track financial crimes, they earned significant bonuses after reporting an operating profit of A$8 billion but they put children at risk of sexual abuse. The bank is now facing a $1 billion penalty, but only $A20 million has been clawed back from those 38 individuals. Nathan Lynch reports.
Is the Morrison Government’s HomeBuilder scheme another case of pork-barrelling which targets the Liberal base? Financial adviser Harry Chemay says it will benefit some first-home buyers and the building lobby – but can also be accessed by wealthy self-funded retirees to increase the value in their home and access the pension.
Throughout the COVID-19 crisis, various vested interests have been lobbying for the reforms they’d like governments to deliver under the guise of economic stimulus. The Minerals Council of Australia (MCA) is no exception. Last week, the MCA published a list of “immediate reform priorities to accelerate economic recovery”. ACCR’s Dan Gocher reports.
Why is Lendlease claiming JobKeeper? What is Queensland’s largest private sector employer, Blue Care, doing claiming JobKeeper when its revenues from government have actually been rising? Michael West investigates the latest mega-rort by the Big End of Town.