List reveals Australia's top 'tax avoiders'

Barry Leddicoat

THE biggest avoiders of tax in Australia include some of the nation's major miners, a property developer and entertainment company, a new report has found.

Among them, only seven corporations were listed as "tax avoiders" in the Tax Justice Network report.

Combined, the seven were hitting the nation's tax revenue to the tune of $4.2.billion.

The report, released on Monday by the network and union United Voice, also found almost 30% of Australia's ASX 200 listed companies pay an "effective tax rate" of 10% or less.

Topping the list of seven "companies that have the greatest impact of Australia's tax revenue" was Rupert Murdoch's Twenty First Century Fox Inc.

The report estimated the massive entertainment company paid just 1% in tax last year, with the federal budget foregoing $1.8 billion as a result.

However, Mr Murdoch responded to the report's release on Twitter on Monday saying there was no tax avoidance by any "Murdoch's" of their companies in Australia.

United Voice national secretary David O'Byrne said the report highlighted the need for a "full parliamentary inquiry" into the corporate tax system.

"Australia needs to tackle this threat head on," he said.

"Otherwise, ordinary Australians and small businesses will end up paying more and getting less in return as services are cut."

While the issue has been looked at in some federal parliamentary inquiries, the government also hopes to address tax avoidance at the G20 later this year.

But TJN spokesman Mark Zirnsak said, despite the actions, more needed to be done, and everyday taxpayers shouldn't have to wait until the G20 for action.

Greens leader Senator Christine Milne on Monday said the party would move for such an inquiry during parliamentary sittings this week.

Others in the list included miners BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto, which paid 27% of profits in tax - much closer to the actual 30% rate.

But despite the miners paying more in tax, the Commonwealth coffers still lost about $2 billion in extra taxes it could have picked up.

Others including property giant Westfield Group, SingTel (which owns Optus) and the National Australia Bank and Commonwealth Bank.

The TJN and union plan to take the report to parliament on Tuesday to lobby federal MPs on the issue.


Topics:  editors picks finance tax avoidance

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