Govt called on to take action on multinationals

  • 18/03/2016
Michael Woodhouse says an inquiry into multinationals is not necessary (Simon Wong / Newshub)
Michael Woodhouse says an inquiry into multinationals is not necessary (Simon Wong / Newshub)

There are renewed calls for the Government to crack down on multinational companies avoiding paying their fair share of tax in New Zealand.

But Revenue Minister Michael Woodhouse says he's satisfied with the steps New Zealand's taking to address the issue and the rules that are already in place to make sure multinational companies do comply.

It's well known some of the world's most recognisable businesses, including Facebook, Google and Pfizer pay little to no tax, despite their huge sales in New Zealand.

The companies maintain they're fulfilling their legal obligations, but there have been growing calls in recent years for the government to step in and do something about it.

A recent analysis found that had the New Zealand-based subsidiaries of 20 multinational firms reported profits at the same rate as their parent companies, their combined tax bill would be nearly $490 million.

Instead, they paid just $1.8 million between them.

Labour wants New Zealand to follow the lead of Britain and Australia and hold an inquiry, while the Greens want the government to take action now to beef up measures to address tax avoidance.

However Mr Woodhouse has dismissed the need for an inquiry, saying he doesn't think it will "tell us anything we don't already know".

"The government needs to be satisfied that multinationals are complying with New Zealand tax law and that they pay their fair share of tax within that, and I'm satisfied that we have robust resources and rules in place to make sure that that's the case," he told NZ Newswire.

New Zealand is also working with the OECD on broader measures to plug gaps in international rules that "allow corporate profits to disappear or be artificially shifted to low/no tax environments, where little or no economic activity takes place".