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SYDNEY, Dec 17, 2015:

Australia today identified 600 companies which it said paid no tax last financial year, including Halliburton Co and Hilton Worldwide Holdings Inc, as part of a campaign to challenge “overly aggressive” tax arrangements.

The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) published the income and tax rates of the more than 1,500 companies which reported total earnings over A$100 million (RM212 million) in the 2014 tax year. More than a third of those companies paid no tax, it said.

The move to name the companies comes amid mounting public anger at corporate tax minimisation at a time of government spending cuts and a budget blowout resulting from collapsing commodities prices.

“Some of these foreign-owned companies are overly aggressive in the way they structure their operations,” Commissioner of Taxation Chris Jordan said in a statement.

“We will continue to challenge the more aggressive arrangements to show that we are resolute about ensuring companies are not unreasonably playing on the edge. If they do, they can expect to be challenged.”

The Australian arm of US oil services firm Halliburton paid no tax despite earning taxable income of A$1.3 million in Australia for the year, the ATO figures showed. US hotel chain Hilton paid no tax on its A$2 million in taxable income.

The Australian unit of US aviation giant Boeing Co paid no tax on A$53 million in taxable earnings, as did its UK rival BAE Systems plc, beer giant SABMiller plc, Japanese automaker Honda Motor Co Ltd and US automaker Ford Motor Co.

Halliburton, Hilton and Boeing representatives were not immediately available for comment. The three US-based firms were among the best-known global companies on the list.

Google Inc, Apple Inc and Microsoft Corp revealed earlier this year they were under review by the ATO. The Australian subsidiaries of these global tech titans have denied any tax evasion.

The ATO data showed Google Australia Pty Ltd paid 10.1% tax on its A$91 million in taxable income for the year, while Microsoft and Apple paid the full company tax rate of 30%.

The disclosure will likely embarrass the companies, many of which rely on squeaky clean images to convince customers to buy their products. Australia and Britain are leading international efforts to tackle large companies over base erosion and profit-shifting methods.

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