G20 makes progress on tax, corruption

Added on 14/11/2014

Tackling tax rorts and corruption will be a key issue for G20 leaders in Brisbane this weekend, reports AAP.

New steps to crack down on multinational tax rorts and corruption appear likely as China and corporate chiefs threw their weight behind the plans.

If corruption were an industry, it would be the world's third largest worth more than $3 trillion a year, the OECD says.

However, the issue of how to tackle it remains one of the only unresolved issues under negotiation ahead of Prime Minister Tony Abbott chairing the G20 leaders' summit in Brisbane this weekend.

Former KPMG global chairman Michael Andrew, who led a Business 20 working group on corruption, said he was "hopeful" the leaders would adopt key principles.

There are suggestions China has concerns about aspects of the proposed anti-corruption measures.

But Mr Andrew, who has lived in China for the past three years, said no country had done more in the past 12 months to tackle corruption than China.

"It has a sophisticated view around those issues," Mr Andrew said.

The G20 target to boost growth by two per cent by 2018 couldn't be achieved unless the "pervasive issue" of corruption was addressed.

The B20 business advisory forum has called for harmonised anti-corruption laws, incentives for companies that self-report rorts, independent national corruption watchdogs and greater transparency of ownership, control and legal arrangements.

China says tracking corrupt officials with the help of G20 countries is a priority.

"Just imagine if the one trillion dollars are not in the hands of corrupt people, how many things it can be used on and how much in economic returns it can bring about," Chinese foreign ministry official Zhang Jun said at a briefing.

On the issue of multi-national tax rorts, OECD tax chief Pascal Saint-Amans said the economic organisation's work on closing loopholes was already having an impact.

Corporations were already scaling back on aggressive tax planning in the face of its planned overhaul of the international tax system to stop profit shifting and country tax base erosion.

"We have delivered and we have had an impact," Mr Saint-Amans said.

"Aggressive tax planning is slowing and companies are reassessing."

OECD efforts to increase transparency through a common standard for countries to exchange the tax information of private citizens are expected to be endorsed by G20 leaders this weekend.

The organisation is hopeful its plans ensure company profits are taxed where they are generated will be included in the final G20 communique on Sunday.

"There is agreement that this should start quite quickly," Mr Saint-Amans said.

Mr Saint-Amans also held out the prospect that once the rules were in place within about three years, countries could start competing on corporate tax rates to attract their business.

Australia, which holds the G20 presidency, has come out strongly on both issues.

"It's a vital component in people believing and trusting in the legitimacy of their governments," Treasurer Joe Hockey said.

"Why should any citizen feel respectful or loyal to a system of government, or be a genuine participant in building a better society, if they feel that they are expected to shoulder burdens which others avoid?"