Parliament raises Chevron and ExxonMobil tax concerns

THE FEDERAL Labor opposition and independent MPs are up in arms over corporate tax avoidance and have the oil and gas sector in their sights, claiming big energy companies are “shirking their responsibilities to contribute to society.”
Parliament raises Chevron and ExxonMobil tax concerns Parliament raises Chevron and ExxonMobil tax concerns Parliament raises Chevron and ExxonMobil tax concerns Parliament raises Chevron and ExxonMobil tax concerns Parliament raises Chevron and ExxonMobil tax concerns

 

In parliament Labor member for Wills, Peter Khalil, took aim at both Chevron Australia and ExxonMobil, raising concerns that the two multinationals allegedly paid no tax in the 2016-2017 year despite making profits of $2.2 billion and $18.6 million, respectively.

 "The latest ATO corporate tax transparency report, which was handed down in December 2018… [showed that] one-third of large companies operating in Australia and making a profit, paid no tax on profit at all," Khalil said.

"There are some utterly damning statistics in this report. Chevron paid zero tax on profit after making $2.2 billion in taxable income in 2016-17; Exxon Mobil made $18.6 million profit and paid zero tax on profit," he said.

The attack came as the House of Representatives debated the Treasury Laws Amendment (Making sure multinationals pay their fair share of tax in Australia and other measures) Bill 2019, which was introduced at the start of last month.

The bill removes big business' ability to revalue its assets specifically for thin capitalisation purposes.

These rules prevent multinationals from shifting profits offshore by having unrealistically high levels of debt in Australia that enables them to claim excessive interest deductions.

Khalil said Labor supported the amendment to Treasury Laws, but said the bill only went a "very small way to addressing what is still a huge challenge". 

"While Labor supports this amendment and any effort that the government makes to crack down on multinational tax avoidance, we need to do more," Khalil said.

Crossbenchers have also raised their concerns with the current legislation, saying it only "fiddles around the edges" of what is an "enormous problem."

Newly elected independent MP Zali Steggall, who claimed Warringah from former prime minister Tony Abbott, said the five largest energy companies in Australia were taking particular advantage of tax loopholes.

"As it stands, we have some of the biggest companies in the world paying next to no tax in Australia," Steggall said.

"Let's take, for example… ExxonMobil—$33 billion in total income in Australia, zero tax paid.  EnergyAustralia—$30 billion in total income in Australia, zero tax paid; Peabody Energy—$12 billion in total income in Australia, zero tax paid; Chevron—$10.5 billion in total income in Australia, zero dollars paid; and Santos—$14.5 billion in total income in Australia, at least $3.1 million in tax paid."

"This is $100 billion in income, and what is the Australian taxpayer getting? Only $3.1 million from Santos, which is only 0.0031 % on such income," Steggall said.

The amendment legislation has now passed the lower house, and was introduced in the senate at the start of this month.

Energy News reached out to Chevron and ExxonMobil but was unable to obtain comment by deadline.