Gas sector grew 12-fold in a decade to $60b but tax take flatlines

Heath Aston
17 November 2015

A federal tax designed to share profits from the oil and gas sector with the Australian public is barely raising a single extra dollar despite the industry's transformation from a $5 billion concern a decade ago to a $60 billion export powerhouse.

With Australia poised to become the world's biggest exporter of liquefied natural gas (LNG) by 2018, a Fairfax Media investigation has found revenues from the petroleum resource rent tax (PRRT) will remain stuck at 2003/04 levels as producers access wide-ranging tax deductions to recoup some of the $200 billion they have invested.

The PRRT delivered $1.2 billion to government coffers in 2003-04 but will raise just $1.4 billion when the industry reaches peak production around 2019, the Australian Tax Office confirmed.

Two university academics – one a former private sector tax adviser – who have reviewed the numbers believe there are too many available loopholes for "aggressive tax planning" by the multinational fossil fuels companies involved.

Despite winning a landmark tax avoidance case against Australia's biggest LNG producer, Chevron, last month, the ATO allows the entire industry to self-determine its PRRT contributions. An ATO audit said the system was one of "voluntary compliance".

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