7-Eleven has told C&I Week claims made by NSW Labor that it has dodge payroll tax in New South Wales are “appalling, disgraceful and untrue”.
The claims first came to light over the weekend after Freedom of Information (FOI) documents requested by NSW Labor’s Daniel Mookhey reportedly found 7-Eleven was not registered for payroll tax in the state.
Mr Mookhey said the documents showed the convenience chain and its franchisees hadn’t paid payroll tax in NSW for at least the past three financial years.
7-Eleven has rejected these claims, with a spokesperson telling C&I Week the company has paid approximately $9 million in payroll tax in NSW and Victoria over the past three years.
“We meet all of our tax obligations as they fall due. We have not sought to avoid nor have we avoided payroll tax obligations,” the spokesperson said.
Victorian and NSW State Revenue Office investigating claims
It is understood the NSW State Revenue Office (SRO) is currently working with the Victorian SRO on 7-Eleven’s payroll tax compliance after its Victorian counterpart launched an investigation last year.
7-Eleven says it approached the Victorian SRO in October 2015, to seek advice on whether there were any state tax implications arising out of the franchisee wage underpayment issue, describing the discussions as “well advanced”.
“7-Eleven has been proactive, transparent and compliant in respect of its payroll and other tax obligations. The accusation that the company dodges its tax obligations is appalling, disgraceful and untrue,” the spokesperson said.
The company added that franchisees’ businesses are assessed for tax under their corporate or individual names, not the 7-Eleven moniker.
“Based on the thresholds set by the relevant state governments, we would expect only a small minority of 7-Eleven franchisees would in any event be liable to pay payroll taxes. Any search for relevant tax records would need to take account of these basic matters of fact.”
The claims come over a year since allegations of wage fraud were uncovered at 7-Eleven following a joint investigation by Fairfax Media and the ABC’s Four Corners program.
Last month 7-Eleven announced it had processed 227 claims under its new internal wage repayment program, after axing the Fels Wage Fairness Panel in May. According to the company more than $24 million in wage repayments have been approved to date.