Politics

Guess Which Huge Companies Haven’t Actually Paid Corporate Tax In Years

And they want a tax cut!

Well, it turns out that some of Australia’s biggest companies haven’t actually paid any corporate tax in years, despite earning literally billions of dollars. And yeah, these are the same companies desperately pushing for corporate tax cuts as we speak.

As the ABC reports today, Qantas, Adani, American Express, Energy Australia and News Corp are among the many, many huge corporations that haven’t paid a single dollar in corporate tax in the past three years. In fact, Qantas haven’t paid corporate tax for almost ten years now, despite making over $106.4 billion in that time.

That figure, once again, is zero corporate tax on $106.4 billion dollars. This is while Qantas CEO Alan Joyce earns an annual salary of a cool $24.6 million. Energy Australia also didn’t pay corporate tax for an entire decade (2006-2016), while electricity prices have continued to rise for customers.

How Is This Possible?

Incredibly, the majority of these companies are not doing anything illegal — Australian corporate tax law is just so incredibly generous that paying $0 tax on billions of dollars of income is eminently possible.

Take the case of Australia’s biggest airlines — Etihad, Emirates, Qatar, Virgin and its subsidiary Tiger were amongst those joining Qantas in the zero-tax zone, but the statements Qantas and Virgin gave to the ABC suggest that they’re doing this totally legally.

That’s because corporate tax law in Australia allows these companies to offset their historical losses against future profits indefinitely, i.e. they can pretty much say that they’re not really earning that much because they’ve previously lost money, or in the case of Energy Australia, because their infrastructure is getting old, so they’ll probably lose money in the future.

As they pointed out to the ABC, they’re still paying things like departure taxes, fuel excises and GST. But no corporate tax. Because the law says that’s fine.

And They Want More Tax Cuts?

Yep. Qantas CEO Alan Joyce has been one of the biggest supporters of the Turnbull government’s proposed corporate tax cuts, saying it would make his company more competitive, which would allow it to hire more people. Many other big companies have followed suit.

How you can possibly pay less tax when you’re paying literally none is beyond us, but the government’s proposal is to lower corporate tax from 30% to 25% in an attempt to follow the big tax cuts made in the US by Trump. And while CEOs of big companies are campaigning pretty hard for it, there are other ways to boost investment in Australian industry.

Anyway, reflect on this next time you buy literally anything. You might be paying more tax than the company you bought it from.

You can read the full ABC analysis of corporate tax payments (or lack thereof) here. And you should, because there are so many more companies on the list. So many billions of dollars going more or less untaxed.

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Feature image by David Shankbone, used under CC BY 2.0