Key Canberra Liberals donor could benefit from payroll tax break

Key Canberra Liberals donor could benefit from payroll tax break

One of the Canberra Liberal's biggest political donors in recent months, a big four consulting firm, could stand to benefit in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, if the party is elected in 2020.

The consulting firm, PwC, has donated $59,860 to the ACT political party since June last year, significantly more than it did in the previous three years, and could stand to benefit from the party's proposal to abolish ACT payroll tax, if elected in 2020.

Opposition leader Alistair Coe has promised to abolish payroll tax if elected in 2020.

Opposition leader Alistair Coe has promised to abolish payroll tax if elected in 2020.Credit:Karleen Minney

Opposition Leader Alistair Coe announced in his budget reply speech in May this year the Liberals would abolish the territory tax if elected, a tax that levied 6.85 per cent of a company's wages bill, if the firm spends more than $2 million a year on wages.

The government would lose about $500 million a year in foregone revenue if the tax was completely abolished.


The consulting firm claims on its website it employs at least 300 people in Canberra, and while it has not confirmed how much payroll tax it pays in an average year, it would pay about $24 million a year in wages if all 300 employees were paid only $80,000 a year each, well above the $2 million a year threshold.

But without specific figures from the firm about its local and national payroll tax bill, it is difficult to estimate how much it would pay in ACT-related payroll tax, and equally how much it would save if the tax was abolished, though it could be more than $1 million a year.

Political gift returns lodged with Elections ACT show the company has made seven donations to the political from July 2017 to the end of June this year, totalling $59,860 to date.

While the firm has donated to the party in the past, such donations have been sporadic, with $1740 donated in July 2016, $6205 in April 2016, $5715 in May 2015, and no donations during the 2013-14 or 2012-13 fiscal years.

Asked whether any Liberals MLAs or their staff had discussed the policy with PwC or its representatives, Mr Coe's spokeswoman said he had never discussed the issue with PwC representatives.

It comes as the Canberra Liberals also received five donations from companies based in NSW, including two health firms, an IT company, property developer and the owners of new and used car dealership on Parramatta Road, Sydney.

Those donations were all made the same day of the federal budget on May 8 this year, though it is unclear if they were related to a function the party held, that day, a dinner function at Royal Canberra Golf Club.

The donations made that day by NSW companies were: $2000 from 888 Design and Construct Pty Ltd, property developers; $1000 from Antonio and Maria R Bonanno, listing an address the same as the AMR Mazda dealership in Sydney; $2000 from Dyvest Health Care Pty Ltd, which operates several Sydney medical centres; $1000 from Ethan Si Pty Ltd, a Sydney IT firm; and $2000 from Marko Franovic, another Sydney businessman.

But Mr Coe's spokeswoman said the donations made that day were completely unrelated to the party's post budget functions.

While neither ACT Labor or the ACT Greens accept donations from property developers, the Legislative Assembly is yet to see legislation introduced to actually enact a ban on such donations that was promised at the 2016.

Political parties in NSW are banned from accepting donations from property developers, and the Canberra Liberals have previously said the party would not transfer any funds from NSW donors to its NSW counterpart.

A spokeswoman for the Canberra Liberals said the party fully complied with all electoral laws and all donations required to be disclosed were.

A spokeswoman for PwC did not respond to calls.

Clarification: This article previously reported the donations on May 8 were the same day as Mr Coe's budget reply, and a second party function was held that day. The donations were made the same day as federal budget on May 8, and the second function was held on June 7.

Daniel Burdon is a reporter for The Canberra Times

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