ATO publishes tax data for agribusiness corporates

Beef Central, 18/12/2015

Tax data released by the Australian Tax Office this week under new transparency laws includes tax information about many large companies operating in the agribusiness sector.

Under new laws introduced to increase tax transparency in Australia, the ATO yesterday published a report showing the amount of income tax paid in 2013-14 by 1539 Australian public companies and foreign entities, public and private, operating in Australia with total annual incomes of $100m or more.

Of the 1539 individual entities listed in the report, 579 (or 37.6 percent) paid no tax, and 920 (62.4pc) paid some tax in 2013-14.

The report has created an uproar, pointing the spotlight on many of Australia’s biggest companies and the amount of tax they pay. Business groups have expressed concern that the release could lead to misinterpretations and the perceptions that companies listed as paying little to no tax are acting illegally. Various types of deductions and carry-forward tax losses can be claimed which can legally reduce the amount of tax payable by a company.

In publishing the data the ATO said that no tax paid did not necessarily mean tax avoidance. To provide more context around the list it has also published three “guidance” items:

The ATO says the figures reported are taken directly from tax return labels, or amendments advised by taxpayers themselves before 1 September 2015.

It plans to release details of Australian owned and resident private companies with turnover of $200 million or more early in 2016, which is expected to involve a further 300 companies.

ATO commissioner Chris Jordan said the publication of tax details is part of a much wider domestic and global push for improved corporate transparency. It would also inform public debate about tax policy, particularly in relation to the corporate tax system.

“Community trust and confidence in the way these large companies operate matters. And, tax should matter to these companies. It is not something to be taken lightly. Collectively, these 1500 large corporates paid almost $40 billion in company tax in the 2014 fiscal year.

However Mr Jordan also sounded a warning that foreign-owned entities operating in Australia should not invest on the premise of no or very little tax being paid on significant profits generated in Australia.

“Some of these foreign owned companies are overly aggressive in the way they structure their operations. We will continue to challenge the more aggressive arrangements to show that we are resolute about ensuring companies are not unreasonably playing on the edge. If they do, they can expect to be challenged.”

The Business Council of Australia said the ATO’s publication of company tax data is an important input to the transparency and integrity of the Australian tax system.

“The data provides context on key issues being debated in Australia right now, in particular, a tax reform agenda that stimulates economic growth and job creation, and how the Australian tax system should be updated to better reflect our place in today’s global economy,” BCA Chief Executive Jennifer Westacott said

“However, the data should be interpreted carefully. Companies do not pay company income tax on revenue (total income) – they pay it on profits after paying all expenses including wages, capital replacement, supplier costs, fleet costs and other operating expenses. Profit margins will also vary by industry reflecting different capital intensities.

“Many small and medium sized businesses, in particular, do not make a profit in a given year, and even large businesses go through cycles where profits from large investments take time to be realised.

“The data also highlights the significant contributions made by business. The companies listed accounted for $40 billion of the $67 billion in company tax paid in 2013-14. Within the OECD only Norway taxes companies more as a share of the economy than Australia.”

Income tax information 2013-14 companies operating in agribusiness and/or rural and regional Australia:

 Company Total income Taxable income Tax payable
 AGCO Australia  203,027,513  5,956,905  1,787,072
 Agrium SP Holdings 2,149,184,636
 Australian Agriculture Co 444,887,052
 Australian Grain Growers Coop Ltd 118,723,313 371,861 111,558
 Cargill Australia 2,596,779,944
 Chevron Australia Holdings Pty Ltd 3,031,734,021
 Chinatex Wool Company Pty Ltd 795,130,303
 Dow Agrosciences Australia 157,447,589 4,847,185
 Elders Ltd 1,396,967,048
 Glencore Investment Pty Ltd 4,611,846,257
 Goodman Fielder Ltd  1,083,630,595
 Graincorp Ltd  3,900,385,878  21,279,314  3,718,978
 Incitec Pivot Ltd 2,285,652,083 53,621,432 5,231,420
 JBS Holdco Australia Pty Ltd 4,040,948,610  419,882,525  44,809,334
 Kilcoy Industries Australia 236,579,286 18,420,914  5,526,274
 Landmark Global Exports  159,474,643
 Lempriere (Australia) Pty Ltd  503,307,296
 Marubeni Australia Ltd 2,326,649,289 48,319,760
 Murray Goulburn Cooperative Ltd 3,099,952,708 17,275,029 93,917
 Namoi Cotton Cooperative Ltd 534,315,387
 National Australia Bank 42,634,043,796 11,268,533,601 2,260,156,675
 NH Foods Australia Pty Ltd 845,824,273
 Norco 430,814,000
 Origin Energy  12,574,554,876 501,252,871 108,004,529
 Parmalat Australia 415,209,535 23,254,700 6,735,324
 Puma Energy 2,449,375,592
 Rabo Australia Ltd 1,242,433,400 185,296,000 55,503,827
 Regional Express Holdings Ltd 255,139,446 8,159,745 2,447,924
 Ricegrowers Ltd 952,127,922 50,082,113 6,995,456
 Ridley Corporation Ltd 919,586,234 26,624,830 4,890,632
 Riverina (Australia) Pty Ltd 660,747,444 9,643,327 2,892,998
 Ruralco Holdings Ltd 1,101,716,567 20,528,563 1,994,159
 Santos Ltd 4,357,480,582 27,340,938 3,147,975
 Tabro Meat pty Ltd 151,660,927 12,903,593 3,871,078
 Tandou Ltd 112,002,766
 Tatura Milk Industries Ltd 405,383,802 34,753,102 6,106,912
 Wesfarmers Ltd 67,456,101,389 3,779,911,166  1,093,140,349
 Western Australian Meat Marketing Co-op 135,125,735 4,171,191
 Westpac Banking Corporation 39,173,872,873 9,012,347,676 2,428,665,547
 Wilmar Australia Holdings Pty Ltd 1,696,557,470
 Woolworths Ltd 49,679,048,321 3,167,025,868 910,864,515
 Zoetis Australia Pty Ltd 256,720,802 16,509,304 4,952,791

Source: Australian Tax Office

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