On 11 December 2015 the Board released its consultation paper on the tax transparency code. This paper includes the Board’s preliminary findings and recommendations to Government. It is intended to facilitate additional consultation.

Background – As part of the 2015 Budget, on 12 May 2015 the Treasurer wrote to the Board of Taxation to ask it to lead the development of a new code on greater public disclosure of tax information by businesses, particularly large multinationals.

Terms of reference – On 14 July 2015, the Treasurer issued the terms of reference for this project.

The Board has been asked to develop a voluntary code for the increased public disclosure of tax information by businesses, particularly large multinationals, by May 2016. …

Australia already has laws that mandate public disclosure by large companies for their turnover, taxable income and tax paid.

A voluntary code for greater disclosure will help build confidence in the majority of Australian businesses that do the right thing. A voluntary code will provide a framework for large businesses to take the lead, to become more transparent and help educate the public about their compliance with Australia’s tax laws.

In designing the voluntary code, the Board should have regard to:

7.1.   Australian experiences with voluntary disclosure regimes;

7.2.   International experiences with voluntary disclosure of tax information;

7.3.   The need to strike an appropriate balance between promoting community confidence in the tax regime through the release of appropriate information and the commercial sensitivity of some taxpayer information;

7.4.   Compliance costs for taxpayers.

The Board should work with businesses, Treasury and the ATO to develop within 12 months a voluntary code on increased public disclosure of tax information by large businesses.

In undertaking these reviews, the Board should consult with relevant stakeholder groups as appropriate.

It is envisaged that a small team within Treasury will work with the Board as required.

Working Group – Mr Michael Andrew, chair of the Board of Taxation, is leading the Board’s work on development of the transparency code. Mr Andrew will be assisted by a number of other Board members, including Mrs Ann-Maree Wolff, Mr John Emerson and Mr Neville Mitchell.

A working group has been established. Members include representatives of the Australian Taxation Office, Treasury, academia, businesses and professional firms. Additional members may be appointed.

Status of the project – Initial consultation was held in August and September 2015 to allow interested parties to contribute to the early development of the tax transparency code.

The Board released a consultation paper on the tax transparency code on 11 December 2015. The paper is intended to facilitate additional consultation.

The Board invites written submissions to assist with its review. Submissions should address the issues outlined in this consultation paper and any other matter stakeholders consider relevant.

The closing date for submissions is 29 January 2016.

Other resourcesVoluntary Corporate Disclosure Code – Media release by the Hon Joe Hockey MP, Treasurer, 12 May 2015; Letter to the Chair of the Board of Taxation, 12 May 2015.

[Taxation Board website] [LTN 4, 8/1/16]