Monday, 21 April 2014

Starbucks,BBC and tax avoidance.

As if we didn`t have enough ridiculous rhetoric from this government about tax avoidance, with the "smell the coffee" nonsense being the most apposite, we now have Starbucks telling us they`re moving their European headquarters here because of "the progress London has made around coffee"! Is this really "another boost for London", or does it perhaps have more to do with a company wishing to repair its damaged reputation, whilst taking advantage of Osborne`s generous corporate tax regime? Margaret Hodge, clearly, is sceptical about whether this particular move will raise "any significant extra tax revenue for this government", whilst tax expert Richard Murphy has pointed out that Starbucks` existing head office operation in the Netherlands has been loss-making since 2010, and paid just £281,500 in tax last year.
     When a company with such an appalling record in tax evasion and avoidance relocates its headquarters to this country, should the announcement be greeted with celebration, as demonstrated by the London Chamber of Commerce, or caution? A few more jobs may be created, but the suspicion remains that this country is an "easy touch" in terms of corporation tax payment, and that the present government`s claims to be attacking tax avoidance holds no water, especially when the number of inspectors at HMRC continues to fall.
     It`s undoubtedly good news that the BBC is undertaking a "review of its £200m annual bill for on-screen talent"; if the so-called "stars" don`t accept lower pay and choose to leave, good riddance!  Not only have they been over-generously paid out of taxpayers` money, in years of austerity for the majority of people in this country, many clearly have been using tax avoidance scams. How is this country ever going to rid itself of what Margaret Hodge has described as an  "industry", if the state-owned broadcasting corporation pays many of its employees through "personal service companies", so that they pay tax at a lower rate? It should be a privilege to work for the prestigious BBC, just as it should be to represent the country at sport, or work for the government and people in parliament, but if such people insist on paying the incorrect amount of tax, they should be shamed and sacked. No representation without taxation!

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