Qantas has spoken out in its own defence after finding itself at the head of a list of companies operating in Australia said to have paid no tax last year.
The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) released figures showing that almost 600 of the largest companies operating in Australia did not pay income (corporation) tax in the 2013-14 financial year.
This list, which has received major coverage in all media, includes both Qantas and Virgin Australia – but Qantas is rather more prominent, heading the list.
The Top 10 not paying tax have been named as:
- Qantas Airways, earned AUD 14.9 billion
- GHP 104 160 689 Pty Ltd [a mining company], earned AUD 11.731 billion
- ExxonMobil Australia, earned AUD 9.617 billion
- Lend Lease Corporation, earned AUD 7.683 billion
- Citic Resources, earned AUD 5.051 billion
- Mitsubishi Development, earned AUD 4.615 billion
- Glencore Investment, earned AUD 4.612 billion
- Hope Downs Marketing, earned AUD 4.445 billion
- Virgin Australia, earned AUD 4.3 billion
- General Motors Australia, earned AUD 4.138 billion
More than 1500 companies with annual incomes of more than AUD 100 million are on the list.
Qantas is keen to dispel any suggestion it is anything less than a responsible corporate citizen.
Qantas issued a statement as follows:
Qantas is a major taxpayer and contributor to the Australian economy. We comply fully with all our tax obligations and we believe in playing our role in a strong, transparent Australian tax system.
In 2013/14 – the year covered by the ATO’s tax transparency report – we paid, collected or generated more than AUD 2 billion in tax revenue for the Government, including the GST, payroll tax, the carbon tax and the passenger movement charge.
The reason we didn’t pay corporation tax in 2013/14 is simple: we reported a record AUD 2.8 billion loss for the year. As corporation tax applies to profits, our taxable income for the year was zero. We look forward to paying corporation tax again as we continue our return to profit through our transformation program.
It’s also important to point out that Qantas’ overall contribution to the Australian economy goes far beyond tax and has an impact across the country. A recent Deloitte Access Economics report found that the Qantas Group is responsible for AUD 11.4 billion in annual economic activity, or 0.7 per cent of GDP, as well as facilitating AUD 9.5 billion in annual tourism spending – one in every nine dollars spent by tourists in Australia – and supporting over 61,000 jobs.
We welcome the debate that’s underway around the tax system and tax reform and, like every major tax-paying company, we look forward to taking part as that discussion moves forward in 2016.
Edited by Peter Needham