Simon King & Leo Shannahan, 18 November 2015
Energy giant Chevron and ride-sharing company Uber will use appearances at the Senate inquiry into corporate tax avoidance today to take a shot at recent decisions by the Federal Court and Australian Taxation Office.
Chevron Australia managing director Roy Krzywosinski will tell the inquiry the US oil giant will appeal against last month’s decision by a Federal Court judge to find in favour of the ATO in their long-running legal feud that could see the company hit with a tax bill of $300 million.
Uber’s local director of public policy Brad Kitschke will go on the offensive over the ATO’s decision to make its drivers pay GST.
Also facing the inquiry today will be fellow share-economy company Airbnb, energy companies Woodside, BP, Caltex, Chevron, ExonMobil and Shell, and accounting firms KPMG, Deloitte, and PricewaterhouseCoopers.
“The court dismissed Chevron Australia’s appeal on grounds that we did not provide sufficient evidence to prove that the intercompany interest rate was arm’s length. Chevron Australia does not agree and will be appealing the decision,” Mr Krzywosinski will tell the inquiry in Sydney.
Mr Krzywosinski will say Chevron’s current funding structure and borrowings will allow the company to make a combined investment in its Gorgon and Wheatstone natural gas projects worth $84 billion.
Uber will use its appearance to defend its tax structure, which moves profits through its parent company in The Netherlands, and take a shot at the decision to make its drivers pay GST. Mr Kitschke will say the ATO’s interpretation of a 1999 law “treats ridesharing participants differently than other individuals and smaller micro-business operators”.
“We believe that serious unanswered questions remain about the ATO’s process and actions in relation to their decision,” he will say.
Mr Kitschke will say by year’s end the company expects to have created more than 100 jobs across the country and 20,000 opportunities for people to “partner” (drive) with its service.
“At least 75 per cent of the fare is kept by the partner, contributing to the prosperity of her or his local community.”
Defending the company’s tax structure, he will say: “We are a young business investing heavily to bring the service to more people, which means we are not yet profitable and … companies are taxed on profits, not revenue.”
Airbnb has repeatedly said it complies with all local tax laws and will change structures if local laws require it. Its profits currently go through Ireland.
“Airbnb Australia is a wholly owned entity of Airbnb Ireland,” Australia country manager Sam McDonagh will say. “Our small team in Sydney performs local marketing and promotional activities here.”
Extracted in full from The Australian.