It appears there are two distinct categories of tax-paying among the leading businesses in the photo industry – those which pay zero tax and those which pay at or near the 30 percent tax rate.
The figures are contained in the Australian Taxation Office’s 2015/16 transparency report, revealing the tax bills of more than 2000 big companies operating in Australia.
Canon, with revenue of $783 million and taxable income of $36 million; Sony with revenue of $1.1 billion, and taxable income of $14.4 million; and Fujifilm, with revenue of 185 million and taxable income of $7.4 million, all contributed $0 to the ATO in the 2015/16 financial year.
The ATO points out that not paying tax did not necessarily indicate tax evasion. Many companies make losses both for tax purposes as well as accounting purposes.
Since PhotoCounter began monitoring market leader Canon Australia’s financial reports, it has been paid $20 million by the ATO in tax credits. In that time (2011-2016), it has achieved sales of over $4 billion, with total profits after tax of a meagre $19 million. During this period, it has paid no net tax, but instead enjoyed tax benefits from the ATO of over $20 million. That is, if it wasn’t for tax benefits, it would have managed to have lost money on sales of $4 billion!
Competitors in the fiercely contested camera market, Nikon, Panasonic and Olympus, kindly kicked in $1.9 million, $2.9 million and $2.8 respectively to the ATO – at roughly the 30 percent company tax rate.
In a sad reflection of its decline, the once mighty Kodak didn’t even make the list of majpr companies, as its sales fell under the $100 million cut-off.
It’s interesting to compare the size of some of the top retailers with their suppliers in the photographic channel: JB Hi-Fi had revenue of $3.7 billion, taxable income of $220 million and contributed $66 million to the tax department; Harvey Norman has revenue of $1.4 billion and paid 103 million in tax at near the 30 percent rate.
Apple, which reported revenue of $7.5 billion, paid roughly the same amounts of tax as Harvey Norman.