Australia shames non-tax paying corporates


The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) has shamed large corporates by publishing revenue and tax information of more than 1,500 companies with reported total earnings over A$100 million (US$72.11 million) for the 2014 tax year. Of these companies more than a third paid no tax according to the ATO, with the highest level of non-payment coming from the energy and resources sector.

Companies listed include familiar names such as Boeing, Hilton Worldwide Holdings, and US oil services firm Halliburton (for list see https://data.gov.au/dataset/corporate-transparency). Based on the information provided by the ATO, the Australian units of Boeing, Hilton and Halliburton paid no tax on taxable earnings of A$53m, A$2m and A$1.3m, respectively.

Australia’s Tax Commissioner blames aggressive tax structuring for the lack of tax paid and vows to continue to work to tackle base erosion and profit-shifting methods, which large corporations use to manoeuvre profits to lower-tax jurisdictions.

In contrast, despite Apple Inc and Microsoft Corp receiving negative media attention for their world-wide tax arrangements this year, their tax payments are more reasonable, having paid more tax than most of their tech peers.

It is unlikely IRD could do anything similar, given the secrecy provisions that it has to comply with, but a similar analysis of NZ companies would likely tell a similar story.

Published Autumn 2016

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