ATO to publish tax details

29 April BRR image

Laws requiring the Australian Tax Office (ATO) to publish the tax affairs of companies with more than $100 million turnover are to come into effect on 1 July 2015. This is expected to affect around 700 private companies.

The ATO will publish the ABN, company name, total revenue, declared taxable income and tax payable.

While the government has suggested that they will wind back the laws, the current political environment towards taxation may mean that this does not occur. The ATO has said that the information would likely be published towards the end of 2015 and will cover information from the 2014 tax year.

Accordingly, directors of these companies should expect and plan for increased scrutiny from interested groups, including media outlets. Some commentators have suggested that the information may shine a light on tax cheats. Such sentiments clearly demonstrate that directors must be prepared for the possible reputational damage for both the company and themselves.

Advisers Senate SHJ suggest the following preparations for companies and directors:

  • Review current taxation approach and identify any areas of potential criticism or misinterpretation From this evaluation, develop and test a narrative outlining the company’s position on taxation, as the central content piece for all communication.
  • A tight, strong set of key messages based on this narrative for use in any public situation.
  • Specific coaching on how to deal with questioning from the media/politicians and third party groups.
  • An early warning/flagging system that picks up on mainstream, digital and social media coverage of the issue.
  • Specific messaging and a Q&A for employees and an easy to find position statement on the company website to explain the company’s position.
  • A media holding statement.