On Friday 12 April, Shadow Assistant Treasurer Andrew Leigh announced that Australia will become a donor and partner of the Tax Inspectors Without Borders (TIWB) program if a Labor government is elected in the Federal Election on 18 May.

The Australian Labor Party (ALP) commits to providing $5 million a year to Tax Inspectors Without Borders on an ongoing basis for setting up an Asia Pacific hub and increasing its work throughout the region. Part of that funding will also be used to assist the Australian Tax Office (ATO) to second experts at the request of host administrations where appropriate.

Speaking at the forum ‘Tax Pirates and Tax Fairness’ hosted by the Development Policy Centre of the Crawford School of Public Policy, Australian National University, Dr Leigh talked about the successful work done by Tax Inspectors Without Borders, a joint initiative of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) supporting countries in building tax audit capacity. TIWB Programmes complement the broader efforts of the international community to strengthen co-operation on tax matters and contribute to the domestic resource mobilisation efforts of developing countries.

He said at present, Tax Inspectors Without Borders is largely based in Paris, and primarily funded by European nations. However, it is expanding into the Asia-Pacific. And in December 2018, Papua New Guinea requested a Tax Inspectors Without Borders programme for their Internal Revenue Commission to tackle tax base erosion and profit shifting issues in the mining, forestry and fishing sectors. The audit will begin this year.

“The funding forms a small component of Labor’s proposed increased in the overseas development assistance budget. And like our budgetary approach more broadly, we are funding our promises by tackling multinational tax avoidance and cutting back on unsustainable tax perks,” said Dr Leigh.

Dr Leigh also reiterated the ALP will seek to play a leadership role in the international efforts to crack down on corporate tax avoidance, which is estimated to cost Australia US$6 billion in revenue each year.

You can find the full transcript of his speech here.


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