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Apple audited by Australian Tax Office

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APPLE Australia has confirmed it is one of the 50 hi-tech companies being audited by the Australian Taxation Office. The ATO will demand seven as yet unnamed hi-tech multinational companies pay up $2 billion as it winds up a series of long-running audits probing tax avoidance. While the ATO will not name and shame, it has confirmed it is currently auditing about 50 multinational corporations. It also confirmed it is reviewing hundreds of other companies for compliance with the general tax law and the multinational anti-avoidance law. The $2 billion, the ATO expects to collect by the end of the financial year comes from amended assessments it has already issued, or is in the process of issuing, to seven companies it describes as “operating in the energy and resources and e-commerce sectors”. The ATO has been probing 12 of the world’s biggest tech companies, including Apple, Microsoft and Google, for the past five years. Apple is one of seven hi-tech multinationals expected to pay $2 billion to the tax office. Picture: AFP Apple has insisted that it pays the right level of tax. In filing its June 2016 accounts, Apple Australia noted for the first time “the Australian Taxation Office is currently auditing the company’s income tax position for the year 2012”. “There are certain transactions and computations for which the ultimate tax determination is subject to the agreement by the relevant tax authority,” the results note. Apple Australia, which alongside Google and Microsoft fronted a 2015 senate inquiry into corporate tax avoidance, has always insisted it had paid all taxes it owed in accordance with Australian law. The Apple accounts filed last week reported a tax expense of $58.5 million as an “adjustment relating to prior years”. Tax commissioner Chris Jordan said 24 multinational companies had approached the tax office seeking to amend their tax payments following recent changes to the legislation, choosing to be proactive rather than risk a higher penalty. Tax Commissioner Chris Jordan said 24 companies have approached the ATO to amend their tax payments. Picture: News Corp The Federal Government announced a $679 million boost for the ATO in the recent budget to fund the Tax Avoidance Taskforce to target groups including multinational enterprises and ensure they “pay the right amount of tax, according to law, in Australia”. An ATO spokesman said the taskforce “will see a greater scrutiny of multinational and large public and private groups and wealthy individuals operating in Australia”. “It means that the ATO has more resources to undertake investigations and challenge the most aggressive tax avoidance arrangements.” The ATO predicts the Taskforce will recover $3.7 billion over four years. On the wider landscape, Apple is contesting a $18.6 billion tax bill in Ireland while Apple CEO Tim Cook this week predicted changes to the US tax laws which would impact on tech companies including Apple. In its quarterly results this week, Apple announced its cash horde had grown to $322 billion, with 94 per cent of that amount held outside of the US. Mr Cook said there were signs of changes to international tax laws which would allow Apple to bring more of those funds back to the US, which he said would be “very good for the country, and good for Apple”. CEO Tim Cook expects changes to international tax laws which would allow Apple to bring more of their funds back to the US. Picture: AF Mobile phones engineered ‘not to last’, expert says