by Tegan Annett
NEW data released by the tax department revealed the major companies which earn more than $100 million a year but did not pay tax last financial year.
The Australian Taxation Office published its corporate tax transparency report for 2015 - 16 which includes tax information of more than 2000 large companies in Australia.
The report includes 1,693 Australian public and foreign-owned companies with an income of $100 million or more and 350 Australian-owned resident private companies with an income of $200 million or more.
The data shows owners of the three Curtis Island LNG plants, Wiggins Island Coal Export Terminal and Boyne Smelter Limited were among 732 companies that paid no tax in Australia between 2015-16.
GLNG owner Santos' income for 2015 - 16 was $3,476,002,729, during the same period QCLNG owner Shell made an income of $4,236,700,730.
Origin Energy, owner of Australia Pacific LNG's total income more than doubled Shell's at $11,917,688,617.
Meanwhile the ATO data showed BSL had an income of $1,014,223,814.
The ATO said when focusing on the number of groups which paid either no tax or a mall amount relative to gross income it was important to remember:
- corporate income tax is payable on profits, not gross income
- in any given year a significant percentage of even the largest companies make losses, not just for tax purposes, but also for accounting purposes
- it reflects the tax returns as lodged, and does not reflect subsequent ATO compliance activity.
Mr Hirschhorn said the information reflected the state of the economy in 2015-16, which saw a significant drop in profitability of energy and resources companies, a sector where company profits are highly dependent on commodity prices.
"On the back of solid growth in company profits and higher commodity prices, we are seeing a strong increase in company tax collections in 2016-17 which will be reflected in the data next year," Mr Hirschhorn said.
"In addition, we expect to begin to see the impact of the MAAL in the 2016-17 data as companies restructure to comply with the requirements of the new law.
"In the coming years the data will reflect an estimated $7 billion each year of increased sales returned in Australia as a result of the operation of the MAAL and will also reflect restructures made by companies to avoid paying the DPT. Increasingly, the data will also reflect our approach to resolving past matters in requiring future compliance to be "locked in"."