The Coalition may reconsider laws implemented by the previous Labor government, designed to publicly disclose private companies’ taxable income, after fielding complaints from private business owners concerned they may be kidnapped and held for ransom if their fiances are exposed.
Finance Minister Mathias Cormann told Fairfax Media that the government was “currently reviewing the privacy concerns raised” and believed the tax disclosure laws showed “a ham-fisted, ill-thought-out approach trying to crack a nut with a sledgehammer”.
Under the laws, from July 2015, the government will release the tax details of about 1600 public and private companies with an annual turnover of $100 million or more.
Treasurer Joe Hockey did not support the legislation when it was passed by former treasurer Wayne Swan in 2010, expressing “deep concerns” about publishing information which could be “reasonably attributed to a single person”.
The list of companies forced to reveal their taxable income, total income and tax paid for the 2013-14 financial year includes superannuation funds, unions, accountancy partnerships, construction companies and may end up exposing wealthy individuals.
Private business owners’ tax advisers have protested the laws, conveying fears of potential kidnapping and ransom situations to government because sole owners of businesses can be identified through ASIC searches.
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