Monday, 19 November 2012

Damn Few, and They're a' Mugs

On reading that Amazon pay hardly any tax in the UK, I decided to boycott it for a while. But consistency in this approach was harder than expected, as alternative online retailers, I discovered, also avoid tax as far as legally possible. Five minutes research (on Google, who also avoid tax where they can) showed me that Amazon were the norm amongst multinationals, not the exception. I'm not blaming them - in their shoes, I expect I would do the same. But you don't have to be Tommy Sheridan to think the UK's rules on tax avoidance have got to be tightened.

As a result I wrote this little piece, inspired by the Whas Like Us teatowel. If you like it, spread the word! (Please note, figures are taken on trust from the sources noted at the bottom).

After going on an errand for his wife to Boots, which paid £14m on profits of £475m in 2009-10, John Bull relaxed for a while in his favourite cafe, Starbucks, which paid no tax at all in the UK between 2009-12 on revenues of £1.2bn.

He connected to the wi-fi on his laptop made by Apple, who report a UK turnover of £1bn for tax purposes, when their real turnover is closer to £6.7bn.

Browsing Amazon, which paid €5.5m in 2010 on a turnover of €7.5bn, his interest was piqued by a book called Treasure Islands, about offshore tax havens.

He decided to log into Facebook, which paid £238,000 in corporation tax in 2011 on UK revenue of £175m, to discuss the issues with his friends.

Seeing nobody online, he texted his best friend via Vodafone, who recently arranged with HMRC to leave a £6bn tax bill unpaid.

To try to forget the tax dodging he was seeing everywhere he went to watch his favourite team, Glasgow Rangers, who had been forced into the third division over unpaid tax bills.

He tried to look up what to do on Google, only to find out Google paid just £6m in tax in 2011 on a UK turnover of £2.6bn.

He phoned Newsnight but was unable to get on air, partly because they are currently preoccupied, but also perhaps because the BBC employ 25k contractors, 4k of whom - including presenter Jeremy Paxman - are as 'companies'.

He decided to inform the authorities, only to discover that HMRC's offices were owned by Mapeley, a company based in a tax haven.

In despair he wrote to his MP, only to find out his MP was too busy switching main residence for financial purposes to respond.

Perhaps his only remaining hope would be to set himself up as a private service company, which would entitle him to ask ... "wha pays tax? Damn few, and they're a' mugs."


1 comment:

blueskyscotland said...

Why am I not surprised.The saying'Money goes to money'is spot on.The top of the pyramid always slags off the beast of burden base
supporting it for being lazy,poorly educated,
dishonest spongers then they make
a thousand pounds a minute getting lawyers to bend the rules so they can step over any barrier with impunity.
Never change though.