A multinational tax shyster has finally been nailed properly by the mainstream media thanks to this brilliant interview this morning by ABC presenter Jon Faine.
Here’s a flavour:
“We are a responsible citizen,” said the Airbnb public affairs rep who had clearly come on the show just to talk about how beautiful Airbnb was in every respect.
“You just said you are a responsible citizen,” said Faine, “Do you pay any tax in Australia at all?”
AirbnbMan dodged the tax question twice:
“We pay all the tax we are required to pay in Australia and around the world”
“What tax do you pay?” Faine asked a third time.
“We are a private company”
A fourth time: “You say you are a good citizen, what tax do you pay?”
“We I’m trying to answer the question. We are a private company … tax is paid on profits …”
“In what jurisdiction do you generate the profit?”
This Faine fella was surprisingly au fait with multinational tax antics, unlike his comrades at the ABC and elsewhere, all of whom had failed dismally to prosecute the Paradise Papers story by ignoring the chief offenders and, sheeplike, baying and pointing the bone at a tiny Caribbean law firm as the culprit (while salivating about the Queen and a few celebrities).
Lest we digress, Faine kept pressing on tax, asking all the right questions while AirbnbMan foundered in a sea of spin, dodging the question again with “we are a global company” waffle.
“Which tax haven are you based in?”
“Jon, I don’t accept the premise of your question …. we are a global company … ultimate headquarters in San Francisco” (trying to steer Faine off the trail of all the other entities between here and San Fran).
“Well I don’t care about … just answer the question, which tax haven are you based in?
“Jon, your producer told me I was coming on to talk about the Mornington Peninsula …”
“Well, I’m sorry, which tax haven are you based in?”
Finally, AirbnbMan fessed up about an operation in Ireland, totally kosher of course.
“What taxes do you pay in Australia?”
“Well Jon, I’ve answered the question …”
That question may never be answered unless the corporate regulator gets its act together and requires Airbnb to actually file financial statements like its peers.
Mind you, Booking.com and Expedia are no better, well only better in that they file financial statements in accordance with the laws of the nation.
If more people in mainstream media understood corporate tax evasion, the biggest scam in world history, the national coffers would fill with company tax receipts. We have the resources to do it: laws in place and regulators to act. What is needed is the political will to drive more transparency and reform and real journalists, a rare breed, with the courage to act in the public interest and hold these global institutions to account.