Today the heads of Australia's big multinationals will be grilled about how much tax they pay

Photo: Getty Images

Today Google Australia managing director Maile Carnegie will address the federal inquiry into tax avoidance in Sydney, joined by executives from Microsoft, Apple and News Corp.

The inquiry will investigate Australia’s current tax laws and determine whether greater transparency is needed to halt multinational tax avoidance.

The multinationals are expected to face questions on how much tax they pay in Australia as well as if they have been transferring profits to lower-tax jurisdictions like Singapore.

Google Australia claims its revenues in 2013 were $358 million, profits before tax were $46.5 million and that it paid $7.1 million in corporation tax. It has not filed its 2014 accounts yet.

In their submissions to the senate inquiry both Google and Apple warned taking unilateral measures would hurt jobs and innovation in Australia. Instead, both supported a collaborative, international approach which they thought was critical to ensure there was a single set of recommendations on international tax reform.

“We believe that co-ordination at the G20, rather than unilateral action by individual countries, is the best way to do this while maintaining certainty and avoiding government-­to-­government tax disputes,” Google Australia said in its submission.

Microsoft defended its international structure which helps the company reduce tax. It said while it operates across Singapore, Ireland, the US, and the Asia Pacific region, its revenue was spit “roughly evenly between the Us and foreign locations”.

But it’s not just multinational tech companies which will face this week’s inquiry. The senate will also investigate if some of Australia’s biggest miners have avoided paying tax using offshore companies.

Last week Treasurer Joe Hockey said the government was determined to go after companies which do not pay legitimate levels of tax in Australia and that the ATO had embedded officials in major companies to understand how to go about it.

Glencore, BHP Billiton, Rio Tinto and Fortescue Metals Group are all due at the inquiry on Friday.

NOW WATCH: Tech Insider videos

Want to read a more in-depth view on the trends influencing Australian business and the global economy? BI / Research is designed to help executives and industry leaders understand the major challenges and opportunities for industry, technology, strategy and the economy in the future. Sign up for free at