Joe Hockey brands tax minimising tech firms ‘thieves’ amid controversy over multinational tax avoidance

Google logoTreasurer Joe Hockey has labelled media behemoths like Google and Ikea “thieves” as he criticised multinational companies for using accounting tricks to book profits overseas to reduce local tax obligations.

Hockey – speaking as the G20 summit gets underway in Brisbane – appeared to accept the contention from Today host Karl Stefanovic that the company – now close to being Australia’s biggest media player – is a tax cheat, along with others.

Stefanovic asked: “International tax cheats, I know you’re hoping to crack down on those, like Ikea, Google, trying to get some of that tax back for us has got to be a priority hasn’t it?”

Hockey replied: “Absolutely. Companies that engage in tax evasion are thieves. They’re stealing from us and our community. So the only way to address this is by global action.

“We can have all the measures we want in Australia but there will still be ways they can significantly reduce or even evade their tax obligations in Australia.”

Hockey’s comments follow the controversy which erupted last week which showed more than 340 multinationals used secret agreements with Luxembourg to avoid tax.

Google Australia declined to comment on Hockey’s remarks but referred Mumbrella to comments made by Google Australia and New Zealand managing director Maile Carnegie in June where she said criticism of the company’s tax bill was understandable. 

“I am actually incredibly empathetic to why people want to talk about this. I get it . . . I completely agree that the ­global taxation system has not kept pace with the [industry] transformation,” she said.

“We’re very, very committed. We want a simpler and more transparent taxation system. I would love for all companies and all multinationals and nationals to have a broader definition or broader view for contribution.”

Tim Burrowes and Steve Jones


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