Australian energy companies make over $20 billion a year paying no tax
The five energy giants have paid no income tax over the past seven years despite generating a combined $138 billion in profits – while millions of Australians are affected by soaring energy bills.
A startling report from the Australian Institute shows four out of five members of the Australian Petroleum Exploration and Production Association (APPEA) – which includes some of the world’s largest companies – pay no tax despite having huge income.
According to experts, Chevron, ExxonMobil, Arrow Energy and Australia-Pacific LNG are ‘breaking the law’ in tax evasion, with the greed of multinational companies.
Energy finance analyst Bruce Robertson told The Project: “If we look at the gas group on Australia’s east coast, two of its multinational members – Shell and Exxon – are not pays income taxes on sales worth more than $20 billion.
‘In terms of royalties, companies pay very little royalties domestically, and in many cases no royalties abroad. So we are giving away free gas. ‘
Five energy giants have paid no income tax in the past seven years despite generating $138 billion in total profits
APPEA estimates its members will pay around $11 billion in taxes by 2020 – saying oil and gas exploration will generate significant revenue for Australia.
The energy giants pay no taxes instead – while Australian venture Santos paid just $6 million in income tax from $28.9 billion.
Host Waleed Aly asked Mr. Robertson what loophole the companies were exploiting, assuming there were no legitimate facts – something the expert objected.
‘Is all of that completely legit from what I gather? No one is claiming that this is a brief description or that it somehow breaks the law, so what would have to change? ‘ Ali asked.
“Well, some people think it’s a scam and it’s against the law and one of those people will be the Australian Taxation Office and myself to support them,” Mr Roberston replied with a smile.
Energy finance analyst Bruce Robertson says companies are engaging in ‘illegal’ behavior and the ATO and the federal government should clamp down on their abuse
‘If you’ve noticed, the ATO reached an agreement with Chevron in 2018 regarding nearly $1 billion worth of taxes to be paid and now Exxon Mobil will soon execute the agreement with the ATO.
Gemina, the gas pipeline company, owned by the Singaporean and Chinese governments, is currently under investigation for price transfer behavior towards its switches. So there is illegality going on. ‘
Mr Robertson called for the ATO to be given more prosecution powers and for larger fines to be awarded to large companies abusing Australia’s tax system.
He suggested that all the major oil and gas powers are engaged in ‘illegal taxation practices’.
Former prime minister Scott Morrison opened the APPEA conference in Brisbane on Tuesday.
Australian tax table of energy giants
- In a 2012 year, APPEA announced that coal seam gas LNG companies in Queensland would have to pay about $11.2 billion in federal income tax in 2020. They pay almost nothing.
- In 2015, Chevron estimated it would have to pay about $4 billion in ‘direct taxes and royalties’ by 2020. The company paid no income or royalties during that period.
- In 2013, Shell announced that its Prelude floating LNG project would pay $12 billion in taxes over the life of the project. Shell has admitted that it will never pay PRRT has not paid income tax since 2015.
- An eighth company, the Australian company Santos, paid just $6 million in income tax on $28.9 billion in income and paid no income tax between 2015 and 2018 and 2020.
Source: Australian Institute
Mark Ogge, lead adviser at the Australia Institute, lamented Morrison’s federal government for ‘freely giving resources’ to these multinationals and said the industry needed a complete overhaul.
‘It’s unbelievable that you can make $138 billion without paying taxes. Our government shouldn’t let this happen and we need to reform the way the oil and gas industry is taxed in Australia,’ he said.
‘The gas companies have promised us billions of dollars in revenue and instead we get less out of our pocket and more of a climate impact.
‘We trust politicians to tax our natural resources for the benefit of all Australians, but instead some of the biggest gas companies, members of APPEA, pay absolutely nothing.
‘The federal government provides resources virtually for free, gifts wrapped in subsidies, most to foreign owned companies, many paying little tax if any.’
Mr Ogge called on Anthony Albanese to impose ‘further scrutiny’ on the giants who are forcing customer prices to skyrocket despite not having to pay taxes.
‘Imagine if you trusted an agent to sell your home to get the best deal possible, but instead handed it over to their partner for nothing. This is what is happening with our gas resources,’ he said.
‘Further scrutiny is needed for the close relationship between some of our political representatives and the oil and gas companies, who benefit from their large sums of money. I.’