Another sacrifice onto Osbourne’s plinth seems to be a number of tax avoiding companies, notably Starbucks . Personally, even though my company inexplicably just allowed an outlet to open downstairs, I’ve been avoiding them. I mean nevermind the morality of it all (they have the nerve to charge VAT!), do you really want to be buying you’re coffee off a company that is so badly managed that they can rake in £398 million a year and return a loss, for 14 years out of 15! Imagine going on Dragon’s Den and asking for money and presenting that sort of balance sheet? They’d spit the coffee back out at you!
Starbucks have since promised to start paying taxes….ah sure god love you’s! (cos I don’t and neither, it seems, does Osborne!). Naturally UK Uncut ain’t buying any of this. But let us pick this one apart for a minute. Let us suppose that I began performing creative accounting on my income, e.g. driving to work (I usually don’t, as its quicker to cycle as its not that far) and deducting the running cost of the car as expenses, along with the cost of maintaining my house, etc. I then presenting the HRC with a balance sheet stating that I had lost money (and in fact despite working full time I should be entitled to benefits) and claimed no income tax.
Now what if I agreed to meet with the HRC and negotiate paying some tax, what would happen? I think any of us would be done for tax evasion pretty quickly! What should it be any different for a corporation?
What’s that I hear the Tories say? Starbucks will leave the UK if we punish them too harshly? Ya, and how exactly are they going to move their stores to another country? Or indeed their customers for that matter? And where are they going to go? I don’t think they’ll make £398 million selling Latte’s in the Cayman Islands…not unless they can persuade the local population to start drinking about a hundred cups of coffee a day…each!
Bottom line, the fact that it takes public pressure to force a company to make what amounts to a charity donation to the UK HMRC should tell you there is something seriously wrong with the countries tax code. Any loopholes in these rules need to be closed, penalty taxes applied to all trade with known tax havens and all the lawyers and accountancy firms who help corporations or the super-rich dodge tax, should be bared from government contracts.