RankingCompany Total IncomeTaxable IncomeMarginTax PayableTax Rate
25ERM POWER LIMITED$6,945,455,014$27,148,3180.39%$7,782,31328.67%
26BG INTERNATIONAL (AUS) PTY LIMITED$6,770,646,72700.00%00.00%
27HEALTHSCOPE LTD$6,651,396,744$11,652,5000.18%00.00%
28AGRIUM SP HOLDINGS PTY LIMITED$6,533,277,462$13,138,0920.20%00.00%
29FOOD INVESTMENTS PTY LTD$6,412,825,690$16,750,0450.26%00.00%
30ING BANK NV (SYDNEY BRANCH)$6,275,430,862$15,641,2770.25%$4,692,33130%
31MITSUBISHI MOTORS AUSTRALIA$6,195,436,833$1,912,5290.03%00.00%
32FOXTEL CABLE TELEVISION PTY LIMITED$6,006,084,50300.00%00.00%
33HYDROX HOLDINGS LIMITED$5,722,736,90500.00%00.00%
34UGL LIMITED$5,640,219,90900.00%00.00%
35NEW ZEALAND MILK (AUSTRALASIA) PTY LTD$5,623,430,259$2,598,7100.05%00.00%
36MIRVAC LIMITED$5,486,283,493$19,687,3390.36%00.00%
37TRAVELEX AUSTRALIA HOLDINGS PTY LTD$5,335,790,513$12,106,5430.23%$3,429,91228.33%
38VENNOR INVESTMENTS PTY LTD$5,204,621,53900.00%00.00%
39CSR LIMITED$5,190,938,10600.00%00.00%
40SWISS RE AUSTRALIA LIMITED$5,188,023,218$3,052,2470.06%00.00%

We are counting down the Top 40 Tax Dodgers. There are now three years of tax transparency data published by the Tax Office and we have used this data to work out which of Australia’s largest companies have paid the least tax, or no tax, on the highest incomes.

For large corporations, and in particular, multinationals, the main steps in avoiding tax are made by eliminating as much taxable income as possible; usually by sending it offshore in interest on loans, “service” fees or other payments to foreign associates. So, we have set a threshold. We have included only those companies which managed to wipe out 99.5 per cent or more of their taxable income over three years.

Qantas, therefore, is not on this list. Although it made $46 billion total income and paid zero tax over the three years, the airline had made large losses which were offset against profits. Many large corporations which have paid zero tax in ATO data, have legitimately made losses and have therefore built up “tax shelter”.

Many others however, such as ExxonMobil and EnergyAustralia, are on the list as they managed to eliminate all or most of their taxable income by “debt-loading” or other means of aggressive tax avoidance.

In response to the censorship scandal which has engulfed the ABC in recent days as the government sought to muzzle its corporate tax coverage, the Tax Office put out a useful statement on its transparency data.

Notable tax avoiders such as Google, eBay, Booking.com, Expedia and other digital giants are not on this list, not yet. They don’t even recognise income earned here; instead, they book Australian revenue directly to their associates offshore. They will be ranked in due course.

In this, the first iteration of michaelwest.com.au corporate tax rankings, we are going purely on the Tax Office data. These rankings are an organic process however and, as we consult with a council of advisers, they will change over time. We will also publish a list of Australia’s best corporate taxpayers, those companies who contribute most to the country in which they operate.

The Tax Office data is by no means perfect. In many cases, there are multiple entities with the same ultimate offshore parent reporting. One entity may pay zero tax, another may pay at the statutory 30 per cent rate. We endeavour to be fair in our reporting to recognise these issues.

The data also recognises trusts as well as companies. For trusts, it is the members (investors) rather than the trust who are required to pay the tax. In many cases however it is fair to recognise trust structures as tax avoidance structures as tax is often the main reason these vehicles have been structured via trusts.

Companies are welcome to debate their rankings or to touch base to clarify or defend their tax practices. We will append or link these submissions.

The data used in our analysis has been obtained from the Australian Taxation Office and is available under tax transparency legislation.

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