GERMAN-OWNED discounter Aldi Australia has hit back at insinuations by Wesfarmers chief executive Richard Goyder that it is not paying its fair share of tax, saying such suggestions are "misinformed and factually incorrect."
On Monday, Mr Goyder urged authorities to "go and have a good look at how much tax Aldi pays in this country", saying all players in the Australian grocery market should be on the same level playing field as Coles and Woolworths.
"They should be paying corporate tax in Australia and they should be very transparent," Mr Goyder said.
Responding to Mr Goyder's comments, Aldi issued a statement on Tuesday refuting "any and all" claims that it was not compliant with Australian taxation regulations.
The food and general merchandise retailer, which is taking sales and market share from Woolworths and forcing Coles to drop its prices, reiterated that it paid $81.6 million in income tax in the 2013 calendar year and its average corporate tax rate for the past three years was almost 31 per cent of profit.
"Aldi has established an independent operation in the Australian market and meets all of the taxation requirements of State and federal governments," the retailer said in an emailed statement.
A Wesfarmers spokeswoman said the Perth-based conglomerate had no evidence that Aldi did not pay tax, but as its accounts were "opaque" there was no way of knowing.
"They should be transparent," she said.
Aldi Australia is registered as a limited partnership and is not required to disclose its accounts to the Australian Securities and Investments Commission, although it is required to lodge tax returns.
This will change in October, when new Tax Office requirements come into force, requiring all businesses with revenues of over $100 million to lodge total sales, taxable income and income tax payable figures. Aldi said it would comply with these new requirements.
Aldi tax record
Aldi Australia chief executive Tom Daunt was not available for comment on Tuesday, but in March he told The Australian Financial Review that the company had paid around $80 million in corporate tax in 2013 and its average corporate tax rate since it had become profitable several years ago was just under 31 per cent of profits.
Mr Daunt also told the AFR Aldi Australia did not minimise its tax bill through mechanisms such as intercompany loans or licence fees with its German parent, Aldi Sud.
Three months ago, major multinationals including Apple, Google and Microsoft were forced to admit at a Senate inquiry on corporate tax avoidance they were among 12 companies facing major audits by the tax office.
The federal government has introduced laws aimed at forcing foreign companies such as Google, Apple and Microsoft to pay tax on profits from economic activities undertaken in Australia.
Aldi Australia has not been named as one of the companies being audited.
Aldi Australia's sales rose about 13 per cent to $6 billion in the 12 months ending December 2014 - more than twice the rate of sales growth at Woolworths and Coles - underpinned by strong same-store sales growth and 25 new stores.
The chain now has more than 370 stores in Queensland, NSW, Victoria and the ACT and plans to open the first of about 120 stores in South Australia and Western Australia early next calendar year.
Broker UBS expects Aldi's sales to exceed $9 billion in five years and says revenue could hit $13 billion, challenging Coles' and Woolworths' stranglehold over the grocery sector, if it fixes issues such as checkout queues and improves the quality of its fresh food offer.
This would lift its share of the Australian market from 11 per cent to 15 per cent and challenge the Coles-Woolworths duopoly.