Magazine of Socialist Action in Australia

Australia’s big business tax cheats

New figures show that one-in-five of Australia’s biggest companies have paid no tax for at least the last three years. Without any shame whatsoever, these same businesses are demanding that the government further reduce corporate tax rates!

The list of tax evaders includes some of Australia’s best-known union busters, environment wreckers, human rights abusers and rip off merchants. Energy Australia, Adani, Grocon, Apple, Broadspectrum, ExxonMobil, Glencore, Transurban, Google and Qantas all make the list.

Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp hasn’t paid any corporate tax in Australia for at least four years despite raking in the tidy sum of $8.5 billion. News Corp also partly owns the pay-tv company Foxtel. Foxtel itself paid no corporate tax in the past three years but happily took a $30 million government grant.

The worst part of this story is that none of these companies have actually broken any laws. This is just how Australian capitalism works. Tax laws provide big businesses with a myriad of tricks to avoid paying tax. In addition to being able to offset losses against future profits, companies can shift profits to affiliates offshore.

If that is not enough, corporations are allowed to deduct certain operating costs, they are offered tax incentives and they are allowed to hand back tax revenue to investors via franking credits. You really have to wonder how any corporate tax is collected at all!

There is no doubt that the system is totally rigged. While socialists support tightening tax loopholes and increasing corporate tax rates to force companies to pay a bigger share, really this wouldn’t fully deal with the issue.

These businesses make their profits by exploiting people. Workers are not paid the full amount of the wealth they produce. Why should we accept this rip off at all? Only by bringing these companies into public hands, and running them democratically, could we ensure that the wealth they produce is put to good use.

By Socialist Party reporters