Thursday, July 24, 2008

Why The Rich Dont Pay Taxes

In February 1988, an ATO officer named Bob Fitton discovered a log book recording the details of faxes sent out by an accountancy firm, including dialling codes for tax havens against some client names. This was the start of the ATO's investigations into Mr Frank Lowy.

Yesterday Bob Fitton made a scathing submission to a parliamentary inquiry on ATO policy:
"It is my submission that the system cannot continue in its present form," Mr Fitton told the Joint Committee of Public Accounts and Audits suggesting a review process independent of the tax commissioner was needed.

"At the moment, the commissioner hides behind the mask of the secrecy provisions of the Income Tax Assessment Act when it comes to large settlements," he said.

There appears to be continual leaks concerning these large settlements to the point where the average Australian citizen is convinced that the big end of town is treated more generously by the commissioner than they," said Mr Fitton.
Peter Lowy is due to testify in front of the US Senate tonight. But nobody seems to be expecting anything to change:
So far, Westfield investors have shrugged off the matter. While the affair has made headlines in Australia and the U.S., it has barely rated a blip on the radar for Australian equities managers, none of whom has revised advice as a result of the scandal. The Sydney-listed Westfield Group owns 118 malls in the U.S., Britain, Australia, and New Zealand. The portfolio includes 55 properties in the States, covering 63 million square feet of retail space, including the 1.5 million-square-foot San Francisco Center and the 874,000-square-foot open-air Westfield Century City mall in Los Angeles. The company has committed $635 million to the redevelopment of the retail precinct at New York's World Trade Center site.
Tomorrow's media coverage in Australia should be interesting.