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Microsoft, Apple cough up millioins after Australian tax audits

Google still enjoying its Irish sandwich

Nice work if you can get it: Microsoft has told Australia's Senate committee into Corporate Tax Avoidance that it's negotiated how much of its hard-earned cash it'll fork over to the Australian Taxation Office.

However, the company has declined to say just how much of a hole the Office's (ATO's) investigation is burning in its pocket. It's believed payments will reach hundreds of millions of dollars over the next five years.

Apple was more forthcoming, with local managing director Tony King telling the committee its audit resulted in payments of AU$630m for the five years to 2016, with no penalties.

The ATO's Commissioner Chris Jordan told the senate committee its recent crackdown meant $7bn worth of transnational profits were getting taxed for the first time.

While major tech companies have attracted a lot of attention during the committee's deliberations, they aren't in the first rank when it comes to sending income on a long sea voyage. Commissioner Jordan told the committee the ATO ha conducted more than 1,000 audits in recent years and named miners like BHP, Rio Tinto, Chevron (which lost a Federal Court action last June), and telecommunications carrier Singtel (whose main presence in Australia is the number-two mobile carrier Optus) as among those whose tax affairs have been re-visited.

As well as Microsoft and Apple, tech companies that appeared yesterday included Google, Facebook, and IBM.

Google's director of international tax, Damon Richardson, told the committee the Chocolate Factory's tax arrangements still used transfers between subsidiaries in Bermuda, Singapore and Ireland, becuase it needs to do so in order to remain competitive. ®

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