Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation paid no tax whatsoever in 2015-16 on an Australian income of $2.9 billion. Its competitor Fairfax Media, owner of The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald, paid $16 million on a lower income of $1.48 billion.
The payments are revealed in the third annual corporate tax transparency report required under legislation that forces the Tax Office to divulge tax details for Australian public and foreign-owned entities with income of $100 million or more.
News Corporation was able to reduce its Australian taxable income to zero, meaning no tax was paid. Fairfax Media reported a taxable income of $89 million, paying tax at an effective rate of 18 per cent.
Australia's biggest company BHP reported taxable income of $5.3 billion on a total income of $26.7 billion, paying $1.3 billion in tax, at an effective rate of 24 per cent.
Australia's statutory corporate tax rate is 30 per cent, a rate the government wants to reduce to 25 per cent.
Other entities related to News Corporation did pay tax. Foxtel Holdings paid $20 million on a taxable income of $66.7 million, a tax rate of $30 per cent. Foxtel Holding's total income was $795 million. REA Group paid $88 million on a taxable income of $328 million, a tax rate of $27 per cent. Its total income was $578 million. News Pay TV Financing paid $8 million on a taxable income of $27.6 million. Its total income was $124 million.
In releasing the figures the Tax Office took care to point out that that there are often legitimate reasons why companies pay less than the statutory rate.
The oil giants Exxon Mobil Corp and Chevron Corp paid no tax in Australia despite reporting income of $6.7 billion and $2.1 billion. Both are investing in liquefied natural gas projects that will take years to produce returns.