Australia’s Financial Review reports today that a massive cash payout of $882 million AUD (approximately $800 million USD) to Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp has decimated the Australian government’s annual budget:

The single largest factor in the underlying deterioration of the federal budget announced by Treasurer Joe Hockey in December was a cash payout of almost $900 million to Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation. The massive windfall, revealed in the US group’s accounts a week ago in New York, was at a time when News Corp newspapers were highly critical of the budget and called for deep cuts.

The payout resulted from an Australian tax court’s ruling that News Corp did not owe taxes on a complicated series of paper loans arranged by News Corp executives in 1989 and cashed out twelve years later, after sitting in bank accounts held in overseas tax havens.

“The galling feature for [Australia’s] Tax Office,” Review reporter Neil Chenoweth writes, “is that the original deals that cost taxpayers $882 million cost News nothing.” Even after collecting the payout, the Murdoch-owned newspaper The Australian declared the country’s socialist Labor party as “the main obstacle standing in the way of repairing the budget’s bottom line.”

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