Michael West Media has done a first class job in exposing tax avoidance on a grand scale by transnational corporations in Australia.
One of their journalists, Callum Foote, has gone through 8 years of Tax Office data and collected the total income of these corporations over that period, and compared it with their total tax paid. His full report can be found at Michael West Media .
The significance of this research is that its 8 year time frame goes beyond any claim by companies that the reason they haven’t paid tax is because they had a bad year.
The gap between total income over the 8 year period, and tax paid, is breathtaking. Exxon Mobil Australia Pty Ltd’s income was $82,381,091,222. Over $80 billion. It paid no tax on that income. None.
Virgin Australia Holdings Ltd income was $40,566,965,631. Over $40 billion. It too paid no tax on that income. Nor did Amcor Ltd, which had income of $34,861,083,137, Vodafone Hutchison Australia Pty Ltd, which had income of $30,039,822,345, or Peabody Australia HoldCo Pty Ltd, which had income of $26,040,401,427. Callum Foote correctly notes that oil and gas multinationals are among the largest tax avoiders, exploring for, drilling, and exporting Australian fossil fuels, but paying no company tax.
Property developers also feature prominently in the list of our biggest tax avoiders. Lend Lease Corporation Limited had income of $68,189,415,683 over the 8 year period – over $68 billion. It paid $8,058,504, on that income – a tax rate of 1.4%! Stockland Corporation Ltd had income over the 8 years of $14,934,096,753, and Mirvac Ltd had income of $14,853,868,146. Neither of these $14 billion dollar plus incomes led to any tax being paid in Australia!
How do they do it? First, they set up subsidiary companies in low or no tax jurisdictions in other parts of the world. Those companies charge their Australian brothers and sisters exorbitant amounts of money for loans, for intellectual property, and for various “services”, wiping out the profits of the Australian companies. For example the packaging giant Amcor moved its corporate home from Australia to Switzerland, and has paid no tax on over $34 billion revenue over 8 years.
Lasting effective action on this tax avoidance requires international co-operation, and so far there hasn’t been anywhere near enough of it to stamp out the problem. But in the meantime, don’t let fossil fuel and property developer corporations tell you they are doing us all a favour, and are good corporate citizens – they are not.
The Hon. Kelvin Thomson
Sustainable Australia Party