International tax exposure at conference

AN international tax forum is being held in Perth on October 28 to discuss how other countries have gone about reforming their international tax arrangements.

Topics for discussion include taxation of foreign income, capital gains tax on substantial shareholdings, CGT and foreign investors, EU Corporation tax reform and other tax issues affecting Australian investment into the European Union.

The forum is being organised by the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants.

In August Federal Treasurer Peter Costello released the Review of International Tax Arrangements consultation paper.

Public submissions on that paper must be made to the Board of Taxation by October 31.

Australia’s international tax arrangements have been the source of much angst to corporate Australia.

ACCA head of taxation Chas Roy-Chowdhury said Australia had to lower its corporate tax rates to match its nearest neighbours or risk losing significant overseas investment.

For example, Australia’s corporate tax rate of 34 per cent does not compare favourably with Hong Kong’s 16 per cent or Singapore’s 22 per cent. Indeed, Singapore’s corporate tax rate will drop to 20 per cent in three years.

Mr Roy-Chowdhury said Malaysia’s Prime Minister Mahatir Mohamad recently announced plans to make multinationals operating in Malaysia exempt from tax for 10 years.

“It’s clear from the consultation paper that there are no plans to review Australia’s corporate tax rate,” he said.

“We believe this is a mistake. Much depends on perceptions within the international business community and, to this end, the company tax rate is more significant than has been acknowledged.”

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