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  VANGUARD  
 
Corporate tax avoidance alive and well
 
 

Nick G.

The Australian Tax Office has just released the 2015-16 report on taxes paid by Australia’s largest companies – and it shows no real improvement on the scandalous non-payment of taxes by some of these big corporations.

In the 2013-14 financial year, nearly 38 per cent of big corporates paid zero tax. In 2014-15 36 per cent of large firms had zero tax payable. For the most recent financial year, 2015-16, 730 out of 2044 of the biggest corporations, or 30.6%, paid no tax.  It’s a decrease, but not worth the hype by the government and the ATO about their “successful” cracking down on corporate tax avoidance.
 
Exxon-Mobil, currently embroiled in the long-running Longford dispute in which it is trying to force maintenance workers onto new contracts with pay cuts of between 15 per cent and 30 per cent, has paid no tax on its Australian earnings for three years in a row.

In 2013-14 it earned $9.617 billion; in 2014-15, it earned $8.464 billion; and in 2015-16 it earned $6.78 billion, for a total over three years of nearly $25 billion. No wonder Julie Bishop crowed when its global CEO Rex Tillerson became Trump’s Secretary of State, that he was well-known in Australia and had many friends here. He does in the traitor class that works for imperialism, but not amongst the working people who his company is trying to cheat out of their wages.

The ATO report lists public and foreign owned entities (including foreign owned private companies) with total income of $100 million or more, as well as Australian-owned resident private entities with total income of $200 million or more, in tax returns for the 2015-16 income year.
 
Total corporate tax avoidance is therefore much bigger than the two thousand biggest companies.
 
In a comment on last year’s report (for the 2014-15 financial year), we said:
 
The ATO, which comes down hard on any wage-earner who tries to avoid paying tax, warned that “not paying tax does not equate to tax avoidance” and that “wealthy Australians made a substantial contribution to the nation’s economy”.
 
We say that big corporations avoiding their responsibility to pay tax epitomise the selfishness and greed of the capitalist system.
 
We say that big corporations avoiding their responsibility to pay tax are thieves stealing from social funds for education, health and social welfare services.
 
We say that big corporations avoiding their responsibility to pay tax will lead more and more Australians to struggle for anti-imperialist independence and socialism.
 
Years ago our party advanced the tactical slogan “Make the Rich Pay”.  It was based on the premise that the rich weren’t paying enough for the social programs of the people.  It now transpires that the rich constantly strive, and often successfully, to pay nothing at all.
 
As an immediate demand, “Make the Rich Pay….something, anything” still resonates.
 
However, the days when we continue to tolerate the rich at all are drawing to a close.
 
Not a word of that comment needs changing.