It’s one of the duties of the Financial Review to welcome each incoming chairman of the Business Council of Australia (BCA) as the messiah who will usher in a new era of successful business influence-wielding and agenda-setting. So today, not one but two articles are thrown like palms at the feet of Tim Reed (formerly CEO of tax software company MYOB), who will take over as chair of the BCA.
Jennifer Hewett is particularly excited — “Reed is a particularly good choice to replace the retiring Grant King” as he has “obvious tech credentials” and “straddles the divisions that can often flare between big and small business.” And Patrick Durkin, evidently keen to turn yet the appointment of another middle-aged white guy into a positive, lauds his shaved head, lack of ties and relative youth (49…), under a headline “bald, ballsy and from tech“.
Strangely, neither explain why the former (shaved) head of MYOB is the perfect fit to lead the BCA: MYOB is one of the country’s more egregious tax avoiders. Know how much tax MYOB paid in Australia in 2016-17, according to the ATO’s report of entity tax information? Zip. Zero. Nought. Hole in the doughnut. That was on revenue of $322 million. What about in 2015-16? Zero then, too, on $295 million. 2014-15? You guessed it — nothing, off $259 million. Oh, and 2013-14? Right again. Nothing on $229 million.
Later this year, we’ll find out from the ATO’s 2017-18 data if MYOB, which has now been acquired by private equity outfit KKR, paid any tax in Australia in that year. Its annual report for that year claims $16 million tax across its Australian and New Zealand operations.
Funnily enough, Tim thinks it’s important that corporations pay lower tax. “Throughout the year we also advocated strongly for company tax reform,” Reed burbled in his “CEO’s letter” for 2017-18. “For more than a decade Australia has shifted from having a company tax rate below the OECD average, to where it now sits as one of the highest in the developed world.”
We’re not sure how Reed actually knew that, given MYOB didn’t pay a brass razoo of tax for several years running. But it shows he’ll fit right in at Australia’s peak body for corporations that pay little or nothing to the community but insist that it’s imperative they pay even less.