Almost a third of big companies not paying any tax in Australia: ATO

Pedro Gonçalves
Almost a third of big companies not paying any tax in Australia: ATO

Almost a third of  the big companies operating in Australia are still not paying any tax despite making hundreds of millions in income, according to data released by the Australian Taxation Office.

The 2017-18 Report of Entity Tax Information lists just over 2,200 Australian public and foreign-owned corporate tax entities with revenues of A$100m or more, as well as Australian-owned resident private companies with an total revenue in excess of A$200m or more.

Of 2,214 entities covered by the Australian Taxation Office (ATO), 710 did not pay any tax. Many companies have claimed tax losses and concessions that often go back several years.

These are a good set of numbers"

Yet, ATO data shows that Apple Australia, which cashed in just over A$9bn in revenue during the period -- the most out of the global tech conglomerates -- handed over just a little more than A$120m in tax, which represented just shy of 30% of its A$403m taxable income.

Google Australia earned just over A$1bn in the region and paid A$37m in tax on a taxable income of A$188m -- or a tax rate of 19.76%. Similarly, Microsoft Australia paid A$61m in tax on the A$2.3bn in revenue made during the financial year.

Taxation office deputy commissioner Rebecca Saint said the data revealed good progress in cracking down on corporate tax evasion but more needed to be done. "These are a good set of numbers," she said.

Saint added the ATO wanted to improve voluntary compliance with tax law by big companies from 92% to 94%. "We are still challenging corporates and ourselves to improve that voluntary compliance even further".

Of the 2,214 corporate entities covered in the data, 1,197 are foreign-owned companies with an income of A$100m or more. Of the 1,017 Australian public or private entities, 594 have an income of A$100m or more, and 423 have an income of A$200m or more.

Sydney has launched a government crackdown that includes forcing technology multinationals to admit they do business in Australia. 

The deputy commissioner told ABC News there were still instances of outright tax avoidance, in which multinationals attempted to shift profits outside of Australia to reduce their local taxable income, and these often resulted in the ATO's Tax Avoidance Taskforce specialist teams undertaking audits.


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