Tech giants pay record tax but budget still relies on miners and banks

Tech giants Apple, Facebook and Google paid a record $216 million in company tax after raising more than $11 billion in revenue from their Australian customers, new figures show, but the federal budget remains hostage to the profits and taxes of a handful of companies.

The Australian Tax Office's annual corporate tax transparency report showed Apple paid $149.3 million in tax in 2018-19, a 23.6 per cent lift on the preceding year.

Apple and fellow tech giants Facebook and Google paid a record amount of tax in 2018-19, but still well short of miners, banks and supermarkets.Credit:AP

Apple's tax was on $498 million in taxable income while the company declared $9.6 billion in total revenue through the year. The taxable income amounts to 5 per cent of its total revenue.

Google, which reported revenue of $1.1 billion, declared taxable income of $200.3 million on which it paid $51.4 million in tax. Facebook, with $582 million in revenue, declared taxable income of $51.4 million on which it paid $15.4 million in tax.

The three firms have been the long-term target of the Gillard, Abbott, Turnbull and now Morrison governments to increase their company tax payments.

Apple, which was the 29th largest entity by revenues, was the 51st in terms of the tax it paid.

The nation's largest taxpayer in 2018-19 was miner Rio Tinto. On $36.2 billion of revenue it declared $15.1 billion in taxable income and paid $4.3 billion in tax. It was a $1.1 billion increase in company tax on 2017-18.

The second largest taxpayer was BHP Billiton group, which had revenues of $43.1 billion and a taxable income of $16.3 billion. It paid $4.2 billion in company tax, a $700 million increase on the previous year.

The Commonwealth Bank, the largest taxpayer over recent years, paid $3.3 billion in tax on revenues of $43.3 billion, $1 billion less tax than the year before.

The other three big banks – Westpac ($3 billion in tax), NAB ($2.2 billion) and the ANZ ($1.6 billion) – were also among the 10 largest taxpayers, which combined paid $23 billion in company tax.

Other big payers included Fortescue Metals Group ($1.7 billion) and Wesfarmers ($890 million).

While iron ore companies such as Rio, BHP and Fortescue swelled government coffers, the oil and gas sector continued to show huge revenues but no tax.

ExxonMobil declared $13.3 billion in revenue but paid no tax, Chevron declared $12 billion in revenue and $900 million in taxable income but no tax while coal seam gas producer Australia Pacific LNG had $7.2 billion in revenue but paid no tax.

Coal producer Peabody Australia paid no tax on revenues of $4.5 billion while oil and gas producer Santos similarly paid no tax on its $4.4 billion of revenue.

But Santos paid petroleum resource rent tax of $79 million. BHP paid $604 million in PRRT while Esso paid another $364 million.

Infrastructure companies were also among firms not to pay tax. Toll Holdings paid no tax on $6 billion in income, Transurban paid no tax on $2.5 billion in income and Sydney Airports paid no tax on $1.6 billion in income.

ATO deputy commissioner Rebecca Saint said the agency checked companies that constantly made losses.

"The ATO takes steps to verify that losses in the large market are not created through contrived schemes, but actual losses that can be traced back to commercial operations. Companies that report sustained losses year-on-year face scrutiny from the Tax Avoidance Taskforce," she said.

Amongst the nation's media companies, Nine Entertainment – publisher of this masthead – paid $47.8 million in tax on taxable income of $175.6 million and revenues of $2.5 billion.

Seven West Media paid $23.6 million in tax on $101 million of taxable income after revenues of $1.8 billion while News Australia Holdings declared no taxable income on its $2.1 billion in revenue.

In 2017-18, News declared taxable income of $58.5 million on total income of $2.5 billion. It did not pay tax.

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