The Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (ANMF) says a new report examining the tax and financial practices of some of Australia’s richest family-owned nursing home operators, provides further evidence of the lack of transparency and accountability for public funding for the aged care sector.
The Report – All in the Family: Tax and Financial Practices of Australia’s Largest Family Owned Aged Care Companies – was prepared by Jason Ward, the Principal Analyst for the Centre for International Corporate Tax Accountability & Research (CICTAR).
According to the Report, the country’s six largest family-owned aged care providers received over $711 million in annual federal funding ($60,000 per year per resident) – operating 130 facilities, with almost 12,000 beds.
The Report finds the companies have ‘complex corporate structures, intertwined with trusts, that appear specifically designed to avoid tax,’ which are ‘clear examples of why simple reforms are needed to restore public integrity in both aged care and the broader tax system’.
Key recommendations from the Report are:
- All entities receiving over $10 million in annual federal funding, must file full and complete financial statements with ASIC, with no exceptions;
- Immediate formation of a public register of beneficial ownership, including trusts; and
- A minimum tax of 30% on distributions from discretionary trusts and an examination of further trust reforms to bring Australia in line with global standards.
Commenting on the Report, ANMF Federal Secretary, Annie Butler said today: “This Report raises serious questions about the complex trust and corporate structures that some family-owned aged care companies are utilising, and how taxpayers’ contributions to these companies are being used. It again shows why aged care providers must be made accountable for the millions of dollars they receive in government subsidies, particularly those, such as the companies highlighted in this report, making significant profits.
“The fundamental question is whether care is being compromised for the sake of increasing profits. The stories being told currently to the Royal Commission and the stories we have heard from thousands of aged care workers suggest that it is. But without any accountability for the use of taxpayers’ money in aged care it’s almost impossible to tell.
“The Federal Opposition has now committed to take action on inadequate staffing in aged care. If it wins the election on Saturday, it must also move to ensure that any future funding for the sector is transparent and accountable, and guarantee that taxpayer’s money is used for its intended and expected purpose – to provide safe and quality care to all aged care residents.
“That is, after all what is meant to be at the heart of our aged care system.”