ATO boss to hit companies with $4b in tax bills post reappointment

Tax Commissioner Chris Jordan will get another seven years at the head of the n Taxation Office, with the agency looking to hit more multinationals with tax bills amounting to $4 billion.
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The tax assessments include $2.9 billion in tax liabilities already issued against seven multinational companies.

Mr Jordan was appointed in the top job by former Treasurer Wayne Swan in January 2013. In an unprecedented move, Treasurer Scott Morrison announced the reappointment two years ahead of the Commissioner’s term expiring.

Ramez Katf, who is currently Chief Information Officer and has been handling the ATO’s controversial IT changes, has been appointed as Second Commissioner of Taxation.

“Mr Jordan’s term as Commissioner of Taxation, and Registrar of the n Business Register, which had been slated to conclude at the end of 2019, will now run until February 29, 2024,” Mr Morrison said.

“Mr Katf’s term will run from 1 May 2017 to April 30, 2024.”

Mr Morrison said Mr Jordan had shown “strong leadership in working with the government to implement its strong multinational tax avoidance laws”.

The ATO had a big win against oi giant Chevron in the Federal Court last week, when the full Federal Court unanimously decided that the company had to back pay about $300 million in taxes. The long-running dispute was initiated under previous tax commissioner Michael D’Ascenzo.

Mr Morrison said ATO has advised that it expects to raise a total of more than $4 billion in tax liabilities this year from large public groups and multinationals.

The hunt for greater revenue from multinationals is no certainty, as it’s unclear whether companies will fight the ATO in court, or the tax man will cut deals with large businesses as it has historically done.

Nevertheless, Mr Morrison said: “With the government’s support and additional funding, it is clear the ATO is delivering real results under Mr Jordan’s leadership of the tax office.”

He said Mr Katf “has extensive experience in driving and implementing transformational change in large organisations”.

“As Second Commissioner, Mr Katf will maintain the CIO role and continue to focus on modernising the revenue collection system and contributing to the government’s broader digital agenda,” Mr Morrison said.

In a statement, Mr Jordan said his reappointment was “a vote of confidence in the ATO’s direction and performance”.

“It strengthens my resolve to transform the ATO and the experience ns have when dealing with the tax and superannuation systems,” he said.

“We will continue with our directions to administer the tax and super systems for the vast majority of taxpayers who willingly comply with n laws; and we will continue to strengthen the strong partnerships and connections we have developed domestically and internationally.

“Our efforts will be focussed on providing ns with a service; helping people get things right, through prevention rather than correction, early engagement, advice and guidance, and alternative dispute resolution. Importantly, we are also ready and able to deal with those who willingly step outside the tax system and hold them to account.”

Aside from Mr Jordan and Mr Kaft, the ATO executive team also consists of Chief Operating Officer, Jacqui Curtis, Chief Service Delivery Officer, Melinda Smith, Chief Finance Officer, Frances Cawthra, Second Commissioner Neil Olesen, and Second Commissioner Andrew Mills.

Shadow Assistant Treasurer Andrew Leigh welcomed the appointments.

“Mr Jordan has brought with him a wealth of experience and expertise from a diverse career, including as a chair of the Board of Taxation, KPMG partner, board member of the Bell Shakespeare Company and the Sydney Children’s Hospital Foundation, political advisor to former Prime Minister John Howard, and as a police officer,” he said.

“Today’s reappointments should provide extra stability to the n Taxation Office. Labor looks forward to working constructively with the government and ATO officials to ensure the agency has appropriate resources to tackle current and future challenges.”

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