by Byron Connolly

The tech companies that paid zero tax in Australia last year

Dec 09, 2016
GovernmentTechnology Industry

Several big multinational technology companies paid no tax in Australia during the 2014-15 financial year, the Australian Tax Office’s annual corporate tax transparency report has revealed.

Under legislation passed by the former Labor government to improve transparency, the ATO has published its second report, which includes tax information about public and foreign organisations with a total income of $100 million or more.

Today, the ATO published tax data for 1,904 companies, which included 1,579 Australian public and foreign-owned companies with an income of $100 million or more and 325 Australian-owned resident private companies with an income of $200 million or more.

Notable technology firms that had zero tax payable in Australia included Acer, ASG, Atlassian Australia, Citrix, Dicker Data, Dimension Data, HP South Pacific, IBM, Ingram Micro, NEC and Vodafone.

One of the largest organisations with a zero tax bill was IBM, which generated $3.6 billion in local revenue with a taxable income of $49.3 million. Acer paid no tax on revenue of $268 million and Citrix paid $11 million in tax on revenue of $275 million.

Meanwhile, ASG reported local revenue of $163.6 million with a taxable income of $11.8 million; and Dicker Data had revenues of $447 million with no tax paid.

Dimension Data reported $1.1 billion in income but paid no tax; HP South Pacific reported income of $3.5 billion but had no taxable income; and Vodafone Hutchison Australia reported income of over $4 billion but had no taxable income.

Google Australia reported total income of $138 million with a taxable income of $106 million and paid just over $12 million in tax.

Commissioner of taxation, Chris Jordan, said today that consistent with the ATO’s latest release and accounting results reported to the ASX, about one-third of taxpayers on the complete list reported no tax payable.

“No tax paid does not necessarily mean tax avoidance,” he said. “Even companies with very high total income sometimes make losses…these companies may have incurred an accounting and tax loss in the current year or in prior years, and are now using those to reduce current taxable income. Many companies are now publishing information describing any losses or other economic factors that contribute to their taxable position.”

Jordan said the latest data doesn’t reflect changes to the administration of the tax system from the recently introduced Multinational Anti-Avoidance Law or any ATO interventions undertaken with these taxpayers over the past two years.

The government introduced a diverted profits tax or “Google Tax” as implemented in the United Kingdom that taxes multinationals on income they have sought to shift offshore at a penalty rate of 40 per cent. This is higher than the current company tax rate of 30 per cent.