Magazine of Socialist Action in Australia

One third of big companies pay no tax

Reading Time: 2 minutes

How much tax did you pay in 2016-17? No doubt more than the 722 big Australian companies that paid nothing at all. This figure includes at least 100 companies that reported more than $1 billion in total income!

According to figures released by the Australian Tax Office (ATO) in December 2018, some of the corporate giants who have dodged their tax responsibilities include: Woodside Petroleum, Qantas, BHP Billiton, Walt Disney, Alcoa, Sony, Origin Energy and Kellogg.

Oxfam has noted that 281 companies including ExxonMobil and Adani have not paid any tax since 2014-15. Neither Transurban or Sydney Airport have paid tax since 2013-14.

Of the companies included in the ATO’s report, the average rate of tax paid was 24.5%, but Google for example only paid 19%. By comparison the average worker pays close to 20% of their wage to the tax office.

The cost of this corporate cheating is at least $2 billion. According to the Australian Council of Trade Unions this could have paid for 169,966 secondary school students or the first year salary for 29,073 teachers.

These companies claim that their freeloading is justified because corporate tax is paid on profits, not total income. They’re able to reduce their tax bill by using a whole range of clever accounting tricks.

That this rort is legal points to a fundamentally unjust system. That the government has suggested further reducing the tax burden for these rogues is a sick joke!

Socialists support closing tax loopholes in addition to substantially increasing the rate of corporate tax. In the 1980s for example the corporate tax rate in Australian was 49%.

Ultimately though, as long as these big companies are left in private hands and run for profit, they will always try to avoid paying tax. We need to bring the corporations that dominate the Australian economy into public hands and run them in a planned way for the public good.

By Anthony Main


The COVID-19 pandemic has laid bare many of the problems with capitalism. The Socialist strives to explain the systemic causes of this crisis, and reports about the issues that are important to working people. We also help to organise struggles against the powers that be.

We don’t receive a cent from big business or governments. Our work is fully funded by our supporters. Even if half the people who read our website every month donated a few dollars each we would raise thousands to help our work!

We need organisations of struggle now more than ever, so if you support what we do please consider making a donation.

One-off or regular donations can be made securely HERE.