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One third of big companies didn't pay tax: ATO

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Almost a third of Australia’s biggest companies didn’t pay any tax last year, despite soaring commodity prices driving the overall take up by $6.6 billion.

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The Australian Taxation Office’s tax transparency report looked at more than 2200 Australian and foreign-owned companies with turnover above $100 million.

More than 1500 of the companies paid a combined total of $52.3 billion in tax, while 710 firms didn’t have a tax liability in 2017/18.

Paying minimal or zero tax can be a result of companies making a loss, utilising losses from other years or having projects in start-up phase.

ATO deputy commissioner Rebecca Saint said companies consistently reporting sustained losses raised a red flag.

“The community should be reassured that we closely scrutinise the tax affairs of the largest companies,” she said.

She said there was a positive trend around companies stopping generating accounting losses and moving to offset profits through losses in previous years.

“We expect many companies to exhaust these losses and begin paying income tax in the coming years,”Saint said.

Strong increases in commodity prices drove the tax bill up by $6.6 billion, with the Petroleum Resources Rent Tax reaping more than $1 billion.

-AAP

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