Australia’s climate culprits are making billions in profits but paying little or no tax


The Australian Tax Office has released its tax transparency report for 2019-20, detailing the tax payments of Australia’s largest companies.

While revenue collection for that year was heavily affected by the pandemic and recession, the data show many of Australia’s biggest corporate names paid full freight on their taxable income.

Rio Tinto paid 29% on nearly $18 billion in income; the Commonwealth Bank paid more than 29% on its $11 billion in profit; Fortescue Metals paid nearly 30% on just under $10 billion profit; NAB, Westpac and ANZ all paid nearly 30%; Coles paid 30% on its $1.6 billion profit; BHP’s iron ore division paid 30% on $4 billion on its profit and 24% on its group profit of $18.7 billion, the biggest of the year.

It was a different story for fossil fuel companies, however. Gas giant Santos paid no tax on the $29 million profit it claimed to have made off total revenue of more than $5 billion, and it paid just $127 million in Petroleum Resource Rent Tax (PRRT) from its Western Australian operations.

Origin Energy claimed to make no profit at all off more than $14 billion in revenue, and paid no tax. Woodside paid just $176 million in tax off nearly $2.2 billion in profit — or about 8% — which it claimed from $8 billion in revenue.

That means the three biggest fossil fuel culprits collectively paid $176 million in company tax off revenue of nearly $28 billion.

Another gas giant, Chevron, claimed profit of just $169 million off $12.2 billion in revenue, and didn’t pay a cent of tax, and paid no tax on $3.7 billion that went to a subsidiary. Shell paid no tax and claimed no profit on more than $5 billion in revenue.

Chinese-owned Yancoal paid no tax on $18 million of profit and more than $5 billion in revenue. Whitehaven Coal paid no tax on $1.8 billion in revenue. Adani’s Abbott Point terminal paid no tax on $557 million in revenue.

Another major climate culprit, News Corp — one of corporate Australia’s biggest tax dodgers — yet again paid no tax, this time off revenue of $1.73 billion. Nine Entertainment paid $52 million on profit of $217 million, and revenue of $2.4 billion.

This article was first published by Crikey.


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