The Federal Government has been accused of failing to stop the internet becoming a source of “money laundering, tax evasion, terrorist financing and online criminal activity”.
Attorney-General George Brandis told the ABC’s Q&A program today that Australians can’t “go out and use the Internet for business” as part of the Government’s online tax avoidance scheme.
“It’s just a different set of rules that apply to different people, different situations, different circumstances,” he said.
Mr Brandis said the Government was making changes to ensure that online tax minimisation laws were applied to the online sector.
He said the new tax legislation would require companies to register with the Australian Taxation Office and pay a “comprehensive compliance fee” of $10.
The Attorney-General said that in the last two years, the number of Australians with “digital assets” – including social media accounts, e-mail accounts, websites, digital games, etc – had more than doubled from around 1.6 million to more than 3.1 million.
In 2016, the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) said that Australians with more than $20,000 in digital assets had accounted for almost half of all digital asset holders in the country.
Social media companies are not required to register their online tax assets.
Opposition Leader Bill Shorten said the Attorney-Generals comments were “a big admission of failure”.
“The Prime Minister has told us that Australians are going to be using the internet at their convenience.
They’re going to have their own internet and they’re going be using it for whatever they want to do, but he’s got to know what’s going on.”
He’s got the power to shut down his own digital economy.
And I think that is where the problem lies. “
The internet is a global phenomenon and it’s a global economy,” he told the program.
“And I think that is where the problem lies.
It’s not about the Government saying that there is no such internet.
The problem lies with the Government.”
The Government has said that it will use the digital market to “strengthen the nation’s digital economy” and that it wants to make sure that “all Australians can access the internet, including those with digital assets”.
Opportunity for Australians to buy a digital asset: Mr Brandis says digital assets are a “great opportunity” for Australians, and it is important that “every Australian has the opportunity to access the online economy”.
He said that the Government would also be making “great strides” in “further tightening” laws relating to online tax evasion and the use of financial services to avoid tax.
“The Internet is a great opportunity for Australians.
It’s a great global platform that enables the internet to flourish and for people to connect and engage with each other and create jobs and contribute to society,” Mr Brandises told Q&As.”
It is an important part of our economic future.”
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