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Australia's biggest companies avoiding tax

08 December 2017

Foxtel Holdings paid $19,908,594 in tax on $794,553,356 total income, whilst News Pay TV Financing paid $27,621,710.

While the list highlights dozens of companies that paid no tax, and even more that paid well below the standard 30 per cent Australian corporate tax rate, the ATO stressed that a zero or low tax rate did not equate to tax avoidance.

The ATO said that, of those not paying tax, 219 entities reported taxable income but were able to deduct prior-year losses; 59 reported a taxable income but were also entitled to offsets, such as the research and development incentive; 127 entities reported an accounting profit but tax deductions were allowed at higher rates than for accounting; and 327 entities reported an accounting loss.

A report from the Australian Taxation Office revealed that in the 2015-16 financial year companies from Walt Disney to Chevron failed to pay tax despite making, in some cases, billions of dollars.

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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.

Last year, in the 2014-15 report, IBM was flagged as earning AU$3.6 million, but again did not pay any tax.

Google Australia paid $16 million in tax for the year, off the back of taxable income of $121.9 million and total income of $501.8 million.

At the same time, Melbourne IT paid $434,705 in tax from $4.4 million in taxable income, off the back of $136.7 million in total income.

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"As these multi-billion investments were completed in 2017 and have started production, the amount of tax paid by ExxonMobil Australia is anticipated to increase significantly", said Travis Parnaby, a spokesman for the oil major.

Apple, which reported a total income of $7.57 billion during the year, claimed taxable income of $393.3 million and paid $117.9 million in tax.

Capgemini Australia, Mastercard Asia Pacific, MYOB, and NEC Australia were also among the list of technology firms that didn't report a taxable income during 2015-16.

"Tax is only paid on income (ie. profits) not revenue".

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The Australian government legislated a new Diverted Profits Tax (DPT) in March, which is meant to prevent the practice of multinational organisations shifting profits made in Australia offshore to avoid paying tax.