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You paid more tax than four major Gladstone companies

FOUR major Gladstone companies did not pay any income tax in the 2013-2014 financial year; and others that did, paid a smaller percentage of their income than the average worker.

Queensland Alumina Limited, Boyne Smelters, BG-Group operating as QGC, and APLNG are all on the Australian Taxation Office's list, released yesterday, of almost 600 companies that didn't pay tax that year.

The tax office says no tax paid doesn't necessarily mean these companies have engaged in tax avoidance.

Rio Tinto, for example, picks up most of the bill for Queensland Alumina Limited and it paid 9% in tax on its $33.5 billion income, $3 billion, and the same goes for Boyne Smelters.

For QGC income tax payments were minimal because the company spent more money - $8.3 billion building the gas plant on Curtis Island - than it made in profits.

It's a similar story for APLNG which expects to pay more taxes once the plant is up and running.

However the 9% paid by Rio Tinto is significantly less than the 19% being paid by individual Gladstone workers who earn an average of $35,828 per year, according to figures from the State Government.

Sotherton's accountant Steve Marsten says it's all to do with risk.

"These large companies often have to invest in a lot more capital intensive areas so there's a much higher risk and as a result of that investment they do get some tax benefits," Mr Marsten said, "whereas an employee's income is considered low risk and therefore they pay more tax".

Construction giant Bechtel paid more tax than the average worker.

It earned $8.13 billion in 2013-2014, but paid 30% or $331 million in income tax.

Mr Marsten says that's because Bechtel doesn't invest as much in big infrastructure as its clients QGC, APLNG and GLNG.

"Bechtel's investment is more in people; so once again it's lower risk and therefore they pay more tax," he said.

The full list released by the tax office detailed taxes for 1500 companies which earned more than $100 million, including the 580 that didn't pay income tax. Collectively the 1500 companies paid almost $40 billion in taxes.

The Commissioner of Taxation, Chris Jordan, says it released the list as a "transparency measure" to increase community trust in the way large companies operate.

"Publishing this data is a step forward in improving corporate tax transparency," Mr Jordan said.

"Large corporates now have to consider the impact of their tax information as a factor in managing their reputation with the markets, their shareholders, their consumers and in the Australian community."

Follow this reporter on Twitter @helenspelitis

Topics:  editors picks, finances, tax



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