David Stuart

The 600 major companies that paid less tax than you

QANTAS has topped a list of almost 600 major companies operating in Australia that paid no tax in 2013-14, previously secret data has revealed.

The list of more than 1500 public companies in Australia with $100 million or more in total income was published on Thursday by the Australian Taxation Office.

It exposes previously secret tax filing information, following the passage of last-minute tax transparency legislation in the final sitting week of parliament.

The figures showed Qantas reported $14.9 billion in total income in 2013-14, but reported no "taxable income" or "tax payable" to the tax office.

On Tuesday, Qantas informed shareholders the company expected underlying profit before tax of between $875 million and $925 million for the first half of the 2016 financial year.

Qantas did not respond on Thursday to questions about its tax arrangements.

Of the entire list, one in four companies paid no tax in the 2013-14 financial year.

Total income reported by all companies came in at $1.6trillion.

Among the other big firms that paid no tax were Exxon-Mobil Australia, which reported $9.6 billion income and Lend Lease, with $7.6billion total income.

Of those companies on the list that did pay tax in 2013-14, most paid the appropriate amount of 28% to 30% of their taxable income.

However, many also paid about 1% or less in tax as a percentage of total income - indicating legal minimisation of their taxable income.

Assistant Treasurer Kelly O'Dwyer said more than half of the companies on the list had been subject to an audit or tax review in the past three years.

She said the government had strengthened the tax office's powers, despite widespread staffing cuts at the federal agency since the Coalition took office.

Tax Commissioner Chris Jordan said "no tax paid" did not necessarily equate to tax avoidance and he was confident of the ATO's oversight.

PLEASE EXPLAIN

Total income of some top firms that paid no tax in 2013-14

Qantas: $14.9 billion

ExxonMobil: $9.6 billion

Lend Lease: $7.6 billion

Downer EDI: $6.5 billion

Glencore: $4.6 billion

Virgin Australia: $4.3 billion

General Motors Australia: $4.1 billion



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