It's a funny old world when a company generates billions of dollars in profit in Australia and pays no tax.
But it seems to be the norm according to investigative finance journalist Michael West who featured on Phillip Adam's ABC radio program Late Night Live recently.
West has released a list of the top 40 tax-dodging companies in Australia, derived from four years of Australia Taxation Data freely available under Freedom of Information, if you pay for it.
The list reveals some eye-watering insights into how corporate auditors like Ernst & Young, KPMG, Deloittes and PWC are making Cayman Islands great again. And Grenada. And Bermuda for corporations.
Talk about things disappearing mysteriously offshore, like the answer to the Federal budget deficit, or funding for new hospitals and infrastructure for all Australians.
Top of the list was multinational mining giant Glencore, which generated total income of $27,929,635,183 and paid no tax. That's an 11-digit number many PAYG taxpayers can barely count up to.
ExxonMobil (Esso) was second at $24,810,160,190, and again paid no tax.
EnergyAustralia was third with $23,901,332,940 and paid, you guessed it, no tax.
At the risk of taking attention off all the other 11- and 10-digit type profit shifters who pay what by any standard is scandalously low amounts of tax, if you call nothing low, it's worth drilling down into EnergyAustralia to get some nuance on how PP Partnerships between the private sector and government (PPP) play out in this country.
EnergyAustralia owns assets that deliver gas and electricity to the people of Australia that used to belong to the people of Australia before governments sold them off.
Now it's owned by a company based in the British Virgin Islands whichcalls itself EnergyAustralia but pays no tax to Australia, and profits extortionately during heat waves when the price of electricity soar and politicians from all sides argue about who's serving the national interest.
PPP should be PPPP - public pays, private profits. Of course they do it for our benefit, right? To think otherwise would be naive, unless you're a shareholder.
Another case is Healthscope ($6,651,396,744 in profit, no tax), now owned by Canadian asset broking multinational Brookfield Group.
Brookfield Group is based in the Cayman Islands and last week, according to West, had a deal approved to buy 43 Australian hospitals, including the freshly minted Northern Beaches hospital which has been constructed with nearly two billion dollars worth of tax-payer funded subsidies.
It's enough to make you sick, but you'd have to go to the Caymans for treatment.
While debate in the lead-up to the Federal election is about Joe and Jane citizen scraping a living wage together, foreign multinationals ship billions offshore and pay no tax.
Makes you think, shouldn't corporations pay maybe not more tax, but just any tax.
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