Rupert Murdoch (Image: AP/Josh Reynolds)

Next time you see a News Corp employee or contributor, or a News Corp editorial, opining about fiscal policy in Australia, or how tax revenue should be spent, or how the economy should be run, there’s a simple question to bear in mind.

How much tax has the foreign-owned Coalition propaganda arm paid in tax in Australia in the five years to 2018-19? During that time News Australia Holdings has earned more than $360 million in profits from nearly $13.1 billion in revenue.

The answer, of course, is zero. It hasn’t paid a single cent in tax.

It’s a different story for News Australia Investments. In 2017-18 it reported $291 million in taxable income, on which it paid … $201,000 in tax. And no, there isn’t a zero missing.

Admittedly News Pay TV Financing — the vehicle for News Corp’s takeover of Foxtel and Premier Media Group nearly a decade ago — reported a $27 million profit way back in 2015-16. It paid tax on that that year: $8.2 million.

So, including everything, in five years News Corp has paid $8.5 million in tax on more than $680 million in profits and $13 billion in revenue.

In that time the Coalition has handed $40 million to it in untied grants, swamping even the miserable $8 million. The net position is that off revenues of more than $13 billion, taxpayers have actually paid the Murdochs more than $30 million.

All this is because News Corp is one of the worst tax rorters and dodgers in the country. That’s why, in 2015, the ATO deemed it the highest tax risk in the country.

The recently released ATO corporate tax data for 2018-19 — well before the pandemic — shows that the US-owned News Corp earned $2.1 billion in revenue, down from $2.4 billion the previous year, but claims to have made no profit at all — in contrast to previous years when profits where sneaked away offshore.

The numbers illustrate the extent to which News Corp has nothing to do with Australia and Australians. It is foreign-owned, Rupert Murdoch is a foreigner, and the company pays no tax in Australia.

Of course, that doesn’t prevent the company’s outlets from lecturing real Australians who live here and pay tax here about what they should do, how they should live and vote, and what fiscal and economic policies we should follow.

The data also show just how little fossil-fuel companies contribute by way of tax. Revenue from the petroleum resource rent tax fell from $1.16 billion to $1.06 billion in 2018-19, while coal companies (excluding Glencore, which handles a number of commodities) paid $467 million, more than half of which was BHP.

Most coalmining and coal services companies paid no tax; National Party-controlled Coalition donor Whitehaven Coal paid just $15.6 million in tax on nearly $300 million in taxable income.

Major gas and oil companies paid just $203 million in tax on more than $820 million in taxable income, off $28 billion in revenue. The great bulk of the tax was paid by Origin Energy, which paid pretty much full freight — $179 million in tax — on its $634 million in taxable income.

Perhaps the fake Australians at News Corp could follow the example of at least one of the fossil-fuel companies they champion so much.

Peter Fray

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