The Australian-owned banks have been congratulating themselves on what a good recession they’ve been having and how it was all down to their prudence in not getting involved in any exotic financial transactions. Quite right, there’s nothing exotic about good
old fashioned tax dodging, even if it was done via deliberately complicated structured financial transactions. So that’s how they rode out the recession, by not paying nuisance costs such as taxes. Not an option for the rest of us mugs, though.
So far the courts have ruled that two of the Aussie banks (BNZ and Westpac) avoided taxes totaling more than $1.5 billion. The IRD’s cases pending against the ANZ and National Bank, if successful, could push that well over $2 billion. This is theft from the NZ taxpayer on a truly monumental scale, particularly at a time when the Government is cutting back public spending. This huge shortfall in tax could be used for health and education.
NZ taxpayers are the guarantors of the deposits of these banks. Yet we get no say in their running, let alone ownership. Massive tax dodging can be added to the list of recidivist corporate crimes committed by these robber banks who make bank robbers look like rank amateurs. How come we never hear from the Sensible Sentencing Trust about locking up these criminals and throwing away the keys? Where are the judges who sermonise about beneficiaries stealing from the taxpayer?
The taxpayer needs to be directly represented on the boards of each one of these Aussie banks that we’re underwriting with our money. And, if that doesn’t do the trick, nationalise them.
And why is the Government still using Westpac as its bank? As Bill English would say, “it’s not a good look”. Too right, Bill, and you’d know all about that. How about only using a bank that actually pays its taxes, just like everybody else has to?