Aged care providers must prove they’re using taxpayer funding on direct care for elderly residents

Tuesday 12th June, 2018

The Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (ANMF) has submitted a number of key recommendations to the federal Senate Inquiry into the financial and tax practices of Australia’s for-profit aged care providers - to ensure operators only receive taxpayer funding if they can prove it will be spent on the care of elderly nursing home residents.

The Inquiry, conducted by the Senate Economics Reference Committee, follows a Report commissioned by the ANMF, showing that the top six for profit providers received $2.17 Billion in government subsidies but paid little, or no tax, at a time when the number of care hours for residents has declined to dangerously low levels.

Prepared by the Tax Justice Network – Australia, Tax avoidance by for-profit aged care companies: profit shifting on public funds (the Report), highlighted how large, for-profit aged care companies are using complex corporate structures and other loopholes to maximise earnings and profits and avoid tax, while taking advantage of generous, taxpayer funded government subsidises.

Accordingly, the ANMF has lodged a Submission to the Senate Inquiry, making several key recommendations:

  • Any company receiving Government funding over $10 million must file complete audited annual financial statements with Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC), comply with all Australian Accounting Standards and not be eligible for Reduced Disclosure Requirements;
  • Public and private companies must fully disclose all transactions between trusts or similar parties that are part of stapled structures/similar corporate structures where most or all income is earned from a related party and where operating income is substantially reduced by lease and/or finance payments to related parties with beneficial tax treatment;
  • Residential aged care companies must publicly and transparently report the staffing of all aged care facilities;
  • Residential aged care companies should provide proof that Government funding is being spent directly on the care of residents and this should be mandated as a pre-requisite to receiving a subsidy.

The A/Federal Secretary of the ANMF, Annie Butler, said for-profit providers, many foreign-owned, should be required by law to meet higher standards of transparency in financial reporting, if they are continuing to receive millions of dollars in taxpayer funding.

“It’s time that these for-profit providers are made accountable for over $2 Billion they’re receiving from the Australian taxpayer,” Ms Butler said today.

“All elderly Australians have a right to safe, dignified care, but it’s now apparent that Government funding isn’t being directly spent on nursing home residents. Instead, for-profit providers are using corporate structures and loopholes to avoid paying their fair share of tax at the expense of the people they’re supposedly caring for.

“As part of our Submission, the ANMF says there must be proof that Government funding is being directly spent on the care of elderly residents, as a prerequisite for receiving any subsidy. That’s only right.”

ANMF media release authorised by Annie Butler, ANMF Acting Federal Secretary. 1/365 Queen St, Melbourne.

The ANMF, with over 268,500 members, is the industrial and professional voice for nurses, midwives and assistants in nursing in Australia.

ANMF media inquiries: Richard Lenarduzzi 0411 254 390