Digital economy no tax-free club: Morrison

Colin Brinsden, AAP Economics Correspondent
(Australian Associated Press)


Treasurer Scott Morrison has urged his G20 counterparts to work together to ensure companies like Google and Amazon are properly taxed.

Mr Morrison is in Buenos Aires for the G20 finance ministers and central bank governors’ two-day meeting, the first under Argentina’s 2018 presidency.

He told Bloomberg on the sidelines of the meeting digital taxation – collecting tax from multinationals like Google and Amazon – will be one of the key issues for the gathering because there is a new economy which tax systems were not built for.

“I think it is important we work together with industry with other countries to ensure that our tax bases can move with the new economy,” Mr Morrison said.

Otherwise, it will be “clunky”, “clumsy” and won’t be well targeted, potentially missing out on the potential growth of the new economy.

“The idea the new economy should be a tax-free environment I think is a nonsense … it can’t be a tax-free club,” he said.

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development released its now-traditional Going for Growth report at the meeting on Monday, saying governments should use the global upswing in economic growth to implement structural reforms to “sustain stronger, greener and more inclusive growth”.

The report assesses country-specific reform priorities and how policy measures can be packaged together.

But the 2018 report points to a further slowdown in 2017 from the already modest pace of reform observed in the previous two years and finds little sign of any imminent pick-up.

“With the major economies of the world all enjoying a widespread upswing, a window of opportunity has opened for ending the long period of stagnating living standards faced by a large share of the population in too many of our countries,” OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurria said.

Among its recommendations for Australia, it again urges for greater efficiencies in the tax system by developing a package that raises the rate of GST and/or widens its base in combination with further cuts in direct taxation and the removal of inefficient taxes.

It also suggests following-up further on the Harper review into competition along with road construction and broadband upgrading while pursuing a national innovation and science agenda.

It also calls for improved opportunities and outcomes for indigenous communities.


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Categories: Tax