Australia leads the way on multinational corporation tax cheats, demanding they publish their tax affairs

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It looks like Australia has had enough of major corporate tax cheats and the slow progress towards country-by-country reporting that the objections from the Big 4 accountancy firms and the International Accounting Standards Board have created, all designed to prevent governments and the public knowing just what multinational corporations do in each state in which they operate.

The result is that, as the Guardian has just reported:

Australia will force corporate giants such as Google and Apple to disclose their tax arrangements in an effort to curb alleged tax avoidance by multinational corporations.

The increasingly borderless global economy means big firms often have no tax liability in a country, even with a major local presence, assistant treasurer David Bradbury said on Wednesday.

In Australia, multinationals including the local arm of Google have been accused of shifting income to countries such as Holland or Ireland where tax rates are lower.

"This should not be a guessing game," said Bradbury after releasing measures that would require about 2,000 large and multinational businesses, including miners BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto with yearly revenue of A$100m (£69m) or more, to have their tax details published by the government.

"The government intends to improve transparency around how much tax large enterprises are paying. We want to make sure that large multinational companies are paying their fair share," he said.

All of which is excellent news. Full country-by-country reporting would be even better, but candidly in the face of such piecemeal demands multinational corporations will be crying out for country-by-country reporting soon as a way of ensuring a consistent approach to tax disclosure can be adopted.

It is of course almost inevitable that the move has been opposed by opposition conservatives; they are always, of course, in favour of tax abuse and in favour of anything that prevents tax being collected. The move is expected to help the raising of an additional $1bn from IT companies, and others.

I stress  this is not the long term goal I am seeking, but in the short term I warmly welcome and applaud this move. If a few more governments joined in we'd be well on our way to massive increases in tax transparency and disclosure on a worldwide basis. And that has to be in the best interests of 99% of the world's population.