Tax avoidance by for-profit aged care companies: profit shifting on public funds

Proposals for transparency on government spending
Government expenditure Aged care Corporate social responsibility Aged care nursing Caregivers Australia
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Australia’s top six aged care providers, some with foreign ownership, posted enormous profits whilst taking advantage of AUD $2.17 billion in Australian taxpayer funded subsidies, using various loopholes, corporate structures and discretionary trusts to avoid paying their fair share of tax, according to this report examining tax avoidance in the rapidly-growing aged care sector.

The chronic staffing crisis in Australia’s aged care system has led to dangerous workloads for nurses and carers resulting, too often, in missed care for vulnerable nursing home residents, yet the report finds that the big for-profit providers clearly have the financial capacity to improve staffing to ensure safer and more effective care.

The report shows:

  • Australian taxpayers, via Government funding, contribute around 70% of the expenditure in aged care in Australia, which is around 96% of the total funding on aged care from Commonwealth and State Governments;
  • The six largest providers (BUPA, Opal, Regis, Estia, Japara, and Allity) received over AUD $2.17 billion in government subsidies – which was 72% of their total revenue of over AUD $3 billion;
  • Bupa, Australia’s largest aged care provider, made over $663 million in 2017 with 70% ($468 million) coming from government funding. Even though taxpayer funding and residents’ fees increased in 2017, it paid almost $3 million less to employees and suppliers;
  • Although Bupa is headquartered in the UK it makes more profit in Australia and New Zealand than in the UK or any other region;
  • Opal, the second biggest provider, had a total income of $527.2 million in 2015-16 but paid only $2.4 million in tax on a taxable income of only $7.9 million. 76% ($441 million) was from government funding in 2016. Opal is owned by AMP Capital and a Singapore-listed company;
  • Allity, did not pay any tax in 2015-16 or 2014-2015;
  • Opal paid no tax in 2014-2015.
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