Taxes of our biggest businesses revealed

Tax is one of the major headaches in business. But how much does the big end of town really pay? Do big businesses pay the same rates as SMEs? Here are the taxes paid by 25 of our biggest companies.

In 2015, the ATO launched an annual list of Australia’s biggest earners and the amounts of tax they pay, as a means of public disclosure.

Titled the Report of Entity Tax Information, it listed the total income, taxable income and amount of tax paid for 1,904 Australian companies. This comprised 1,579 public and foreign-owned companies with an income of at least $100 million in 2014-15 financial year, as well as 325 privately owned Australian companies with an income of at least $200 million.

According to the ATO’s figures, these companies raked in a staggering combined income of $1.78 trillion in the 2015 tax year – more than the total GDP of many countries.

The taxable income for all of these companies combined totalled $168.9 billion, and the total tax paid on these earnings amounted to $41.9 billion – an equivalent rate of just under 25 per cent on average.

Around a third of the companies on the list paid no tax at all, primarily on the back of not making any taxable income for the year. However, 134 companies managed to avoid paying any tax despite accruing taxable income for the year.

As you would expect, there was a great deal of variation in the amounts and proportional rates of tax paid across the board.

My Business has compiled this breakdown of some of our best-known companies, and calculated the proportion of tax paid against their taxable income from the ATO's figures. The 25 corporations have been ranked according to their total income generated Making calculations with calculator, pen and magnifying glass sitting atop a pile of graphs and charts(all figures have been rounded to a single decimal point).

1. Wesfarmers Limited

Tax paid: $958.7 million
Taxable income: $3.3 billion
Total income: $68.6 billion
Percentage of taxable income paid as tax: 29 per cent

2. Woolworths Limited

Tax paid: $898.8 million
Taxable income: $3.1 billion
Total income: $49.5 billion
Percentage of taxable income paid as tax: 29 per cent

3. National Australia Bank Limited

Tax paid: $2.7 billion
Taxable income: $12.9 billion
Total income: $46.1 billion
Percentage of taxable income paid as tax: 21 per cent

4. Commonwealth Bank of Australia

Tax paid: $3.1 billion
Taxable income: $10.8 billion
Total income: $44.2 billion
Percentage of taxable income paid as tax: 29 per cent

5. Westpac Banking Corporation

Tax paid: $2.9 billion
Taxable income: $10.2 billion
Total income: $36.8 billion
Percentage of taxable income paid as tax: 28 per cent

6. BHP Billiton Limited

Tax paid: $1.7 billion
Taxable income: $6.3 billion
Total income: $33.0 billion
Percentage of taxable income paid as tax: 27 per cent

7. Rio Tinto Ltd

Tax paid: $2.7 billion
Taxable income: $9.8 billion
Total income: $31.2 billion
Percentage of taxable income paid as tax: 28 per cent

8. Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Limited

Tax paid: $2.1 billion
Taxable income: $8.7 billion
Total income: $30.0 billion
Percentage of taxable income paid as tax: 24 per cent

9. Telstra Corporation Limited

Tax paid: $1.7 billion
Taxable income: $6.0 billion
Total income $25.7 billion
Percentage of taxable income paid as tax: 28 per cent

10. Qantas Airways Ltd

Tax paid: $0
Taxable income: $211.7 million
Total income: $15.5 billion
Percentage of taxable income paid as tax: 0 per cent

11. Insurance Australia Group Limited

Tax paid: $68.3 million
Taxable income: $746.7 million
Total income: $15.1 billion
Percentage of taxable income paid as tax: 9 per cent

12. Lendlease Corporation Limited

Tax paid: $0
Taxable income: $0
Total income $8.8 billion
Percentage of taxable income paid as tax: 0 per cent

13. EnergyAustralia Holdings Limited

Tax paid: $0
Taxable income: $0
Total income: $7.3 billion
Percentage of taxable income paid as tax: 0 per cent

14. QBE Insurance Group Limited

Tax paid: $277.5 million
Taxable income: $1.0 billion
Total income: $6.8 billion
Percentage of taxable income paid as tax: 28 per cent

15. Medibank Private Limited

Tax paid: $90.9 million
Taxable income: $359.1 million
Total income: $6.6 billion
Percentage of taxable income paid as tax: 25 per cent

16. Vodafone Hutchison Australia Pty Ltd

Tax paid: $0
Taxable income: $0
Total income: $4.1 billion
Percentage of taxable income paid as tax: 0 per cent

17. Myer Holdings Limited

Tax paid: $28.1 million
Taxable income: $108.4 million
Total income: $2.8 billion
Percentage of taxable income paid as tax: 26 per cent

18. Ingham Holdings Pty Limited

Tax paid: $18.8 million
Taxable income: $69.7 million
Total income: $2.5 billion
Percentage of taxable income paid as tax: 27 per cent

19. Seven West Media Limited

Tax paid: $57.6 million
Taxable income: $221.7 million
Total income: $1.8 billion
Percentage of taxable income paid as tax: 26 per cent

20. Nine Entertainment Co Holdings Limited

Tax paid: $0
Taxable income: $12.2 million
Total income: $1.5 billion
Percentage of taxable income paid as tax: 0 per cent

21. Flight Centre Travel Group Limited

Tax paid: $93.0 million
Taxable income: $317.0 million
Total income: $1.4 billion
Percentage of taxable income paid as tax: 29 per cent

22. Harvey Norman

Tax paid: $82.3 million
Taxable income: $292.8 million
Total income: $1.3 billion
Percentage of taxable income paid as tax: 28 per cent

23. Sydney Airport Limited

Tax paid: $0
Taxable income: $0
Total income: $1.2 billion
Percentage of taxable income paid as tax: 0 per cent

24. Pacific Brands Ltd

Tax paid: $2.8 million
Taxable income: $28.8 million
Total income: $1.0 billion
Percentage of taxable income paid as tax: 10 per cent

25. Westfield Corporation Limited

Tax paid: $458,000
Taxable income: $3.6 million
Total income: $515.4 million
Percentage of taxable income paid as tax: 13 per cent

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