Facebook and Tax Avoidance

House of Representatives 18/02/2021

Mr KHALIL (Wills) (13:45): We awoke this morning to a very different Facebook. There were no news platforms, no publishers and no articles; health pages and hospital pages were blocked as well. This is a massive whack from Facebook in response to proposed media bargaining laws that would see social media platforms pay Australian news outlets for content shared on their sites, but it’s not the main game. The real game is that these big tech companies, as well as other multinationals, don’t pay their fair share of tax to our nation. On this, our Treasurer has dropped the ball. Maybe the numbers are too big for him. Maybe it’s too daunting to tackle. These big companies must pay their fair share of tax. They don’t; they avoid it. They offshore, they debt-load on subsidiaries, they price-transfer—all tricks to avoid paying their fair share of tax.

Let’s take Facebook, since we’re talking about it today. In 2018-19 Facebook earned around $580 million in Australia and paid $15 million in tax. That’s 3c in the dollar. That is unacceptable and unfair to working Australians. If your average Aussie worker is paying tax of 32c in the dollar out of their wages or salary, it’s not too much to ask these big tech companies to pay their fair share. That’s money lost that could have gone towards our kids’ education, to our hospitals, to buying enough COVID vaccinations. Every tax dollar that Facebook avoids paying hurts us as a nation. Treasurer, why don’t you get Mark Zuckerberg to pay his fair share of tax?