News Corp Australia denies allegations that it took billions of dollars off shore tax-free

News CorpAustralia’s largest newspaper publisher has angrily rejected allegations that it siphoned off $4.5bn of cash and shares from its Australian media businesses over the past two years, virtually tax free.

News Corp Australia has this afternoon denied the allegations published in a story across Fairfax newspapers yesterday, written by Michael West, which used calculations by a University of NSW academic to claim that over the past decade Rupert Murdoch’s companies here have paid income tax equivalent to a rate of 4.8 per cent on $6.8 billion in operating cash flows, or just 10 per cent of its operating profits.

“This claim is based on a fundamental misunderstanding of the nature of these transactions, US and Australian tax treaties and applicable Australian tax law,” said News Corp Australia chief executive Julian Clarke.

In the statement the company claims that over the last five years, News Corp Australia has paid $417m in corporate tax and withholding tax on accounting profits of $815.9m. The publisher also said it had paid $900m in goods and services, fringe benefits and payroll taxes over the last five years.

According to the Fairfax Media story the company had refused to address questions arising from an analysis by UNSW Jeffrey Knapp.

But in a statement a spokesman told West: “Our financial reports comply with Australian Accounting Standards and the Corporations Act 2001, have received an unqualified audit opinion and are filed with the regulator, ASIC. Beyond this we have nothing further to add.”

The fracas comes just one day before the Senate Economics References Committee is to hear testimony from the CEOs of Apple, Microsoft, Google and News Corp Australia about the level of tax they pay.

“We expect these matters to be covered in more detail at the Senate Committee tax hearing in Sydney tomorrow” said Clarke in his statement.

Nic Christensen 


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