GetUp: Activist group paid no tax last financial year
GetUp: Activist group paid no tax last financial year

$1.3m in black but GetUp pays no tax

GetUp - the activist group that berates others for not paying tax - paid no tax last financial year.

GetUp's accounts show a surplus of $1.3 million in 2019-20 which was an improvement of nearly $2 million on the prior 12 months.

The financials say GetUp had an "expected tax expense" of $357,000 but this was reduced to zero through an "addback".

"The company's main source of income is donations," GetUp said in the notes to its accounts. "In accordance with a private ruling received from the Australian Taxation Office, such amounts are not considered assessable income."

A private ruling is binding advice from the ATO that sets out how tax law applies to an individual or company.

A GetUp page listing 'hard right' MPs it wished to target at the last election. Picture: GetUp.org.au
A GetUp page listing 'hard right' MPs it wished to target at the last election. Picture: GetUp.org.au

Questions have previously been raised about GetUp's treatment of donations as non-assessable.

In December 2019, GetUp criticised companies including Santos for not paying tax.

It relied on 2017 figures to make that attack and made no mention of Santos paying $US439m ($593m) in tax in calendar 2018, which the gas company had reported publicly in February 2019.

Santos made a net loss of $US360m in 2017 ($462m) in 2017 but a profit of $US727m ($1.04 billion) in 2018.

GetUp's donations fell 23 per cent to $9.56m in 2019-20 after reaching a high the previous financial year when the company was amassing a war chest in its unsuccessful attempt to unseat the Morrison government.

The number of people who donated fell slightly to 63,325.

GetUp organised a protest sign calling for the Rio Tinto CEO to be sacked. Picture: Dan Peled
GetUp organised a protest sign calling for the Rio Tinto CEO to be sacked. Picture: Dan Peled

The accounts show GetUp's executive pay rose 16 per cent to $1.12m in 2019-20. This appears to be explained mainly by the number of "key management personnel" rising to eight from six.

Key manager compensation was up by a third compared to 2017-18 levels.

However, staff expenses fell by more than 20 per cent to $5.5m versus 2018-19 and were four per cent below 2017-18 levels.

GetUp is a not for profit company. However, according to its financial statements, "it is not, nor is it required to be registered with the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission."

A GetUp spokeswoman said the ATO had ruled the donations weren't assessable because they weren't income from trading activity and were voluntary.

She also confirmed GetUp had added executives.

As for the attack on Santos, she said tax losses were being carried forward "because of their overspending on unprofitable gas assets, which should concern their investors."

Originally published as $1.3m in black but GetUp pays no tax


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