Big firms paid no tax in 2016, Tax Office says

News Corporation chairman Rupert Murdoch. Photo: APRupert Murdoch’s News Corporation paid no tax whatsoever in 2015-16 on an Australian income of $2.9 billion. Its competitor Fairfax Media, owner of The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald, paid $16 million on a lower income of $1.48 billion.

The payments are revealed in the third annual corporate tax transparency report required under legislation that forces the Tax Office to divulge tax details for Australian public and foreign-owned entities with income of $100 million or more.

News Corporation was able to reduce its Australian taxable income to zero, meaning no tax was paid. Fairfax Media reported a taxable income of $89 million, paying tax at an effective rate of 18 per cent.

Australia’s biggest company BHP reported taxable income of $5.3 billion on a total income of $26.7 billion, paying $1.3 billion in tax, at an effective rate of 24 per cent.

Australia’s statutory corporate tax rate is 30 per cent, a rate the government wants to reduce to 25 per cent.

Other entities related to News Corporation did pay tax. Foxtel Holdings paid $20 million on a taxable income of $66.7 million, a tax rate of $30 per cent. Foxtel Holding’s total income was $795 million. REA Group paid $88 million on a taxable income of $328 million, a tax rate of $27 per cent. Its total income was $578 million. News Pay TV Financing paid $8 million on a taxable income of $27.6 million. Its total income was $124 million.

In releasing the figures the Tax Office took care to point out that that there are often legitimate reasons why companies pay less than the statutory rate.

The oil giants Exxon Mobil Corp and Chevron Corp paid no tax in Australia despite reporting income of $6.7 billion and $2.1 billion. Both are investing in liquefied natural gas projects that will take years to produce returns.

ACTU President Ged Kearney said the tax data was “nothing short of a national scandal”.

“These businesses are getting away with thumbing their noses at paying their taxes, and it’s costing us all because it is ripping off money that should be going to our schools and hospitals,” she said.

“We need to change the rules so that there is one set of laws for all Australians, and companies pay tax in the same way that all their employees do. It is absurd that a worker, who generates all the profit a multi-national company brings in, would pay more tax that that company.”

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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