back to article Google, Amazon, Starbucks are 'immoral' and 'ridiculous' over UK tax

MPs didn't shrink from telling senior execs from Amazon, Starbucks and Google that they were "ridiculous", "unbelievable" and "immoral" about their UK taxes. Under questioning from the Public Accounts Committee, Andrew Cecil, the director of public policy for Amazon, tried to claim that he had no idea what sales were made in …

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Anonymous Coward

Immoral

What are these highly paid MPs doing poncing around interviewing executives of foreign companies, calling them immoral or whatever, when after all they cannot do anything to them? Is it for show or something? Or what? It doesn't seem a very useful use of time.

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I wonder if a turnover tax would work, maybe at about 1%

Companies would pay tax either on their profit or on their turnover, whichever is higher.

This isn't the same as VAT because that's only paid on the change in value.

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Anonymous Coward

Some blatant porkies going on here

So Amazon are claiming UK revenues of just £200m in 2011 against £9.1bn European turnover? So the UK is just 2% of their business and they're about 10% of the size of Argos Online in the UK (£1.9bn turnover online in 2011)? Riiiight. Someone is telling some enormous whoppers here.

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Two thoughts. 1) Morality is irrelevent unless you are a signed up member of a cult, sorry, religion, where there is a book in which 'someone' has codified morals. 2) Much of the coverage I've seen, and indeed this article, talk about the tax rate against revenue. I may not be a tax advisor, but I am quite certain tax is charged on profits, not revenues.

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FAIL

Morality is irrelevent unless you are a signed up member of a cult, sorry, religion, where there is a book in which 'someone' has codified morals.

So are you immoral or amoral?

Personally, I try to fit in with the morals, mores and values of the society in which I live, even if many of those morals, mores and values have an origin in some sky-pixie book. It generally makes for a simpler and more civil life.

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TRT
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Coat

They should throw the book at them...

providing Amazon deliver it on time.

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These companies cannot be shamed

That's a waste of time. Change the rules so they can't get away with this, and if they fail to comply tell them the UK will not allow them to do business here.

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Anonymous Coward

We need to relook at the way we tax

The existing tax system was created hundreds of years ago and not really designed for todays automated fast transactions mixed with ability to geographically play games with transfer pricing.

Essentially tax accountants look at tax as a least cost option, transferring tangible and intangible goods (some times even physically) to reduce exposure, essentially Tax is seen a variable cost and has a market price.

Even back in the 80's when I used to play with "container accounting" the ability to do it properly was down to time and effort, these days a lot of paperwork is not longer on paper and it can be fully automated for some countries.

Overall we need a tax system that is fit for purpose in todays technological world.

Coming back to corporation tax what we really need to do is have a corporation tax rate that is lower (or abolished and/or replaced with taxes which track the money and funds), and some form of guarantee regarding the period it remains stable for until the rate is reviewed. Then sit back and effectively be an aircraft carrier for European trade, even the likes of Google employ people with good modern economy skills, who themselves pay taxes in Ireland on income and expenditure.

Too much emphasis is placed on profit and not enough with tracking the money which is taken out of the country.

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FAIL

We "Do No Evi". We're so cool, we're so smart ,and not a bozo in suits, yeah, we're so cool. our products are all free. and, erm, oh yeah open source. we're so cool. bull fucking shit.

And last time I went to Zurich, the cheapest hotel was nearly $250 a night, and no restaurant was south of $60 ahead. Why the fuck would you trade coffee with a Swiss company who's more known for their banking than past colonies around the globe, one of which of such colonies might grow coffee beans? bull fucking shit.

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Time to bring these big companies into line - regardless of tax loopholes. Pay up or get out of our economy - we won't miss you as someone will simply step up to replace you.

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it's not that simple...

This is a slightly tricky area as this is dealing not with UK tax law, but with international tax law. So it's very hard for the UK to act unilaterally (and, if they do, it gives license for other countries to act unilaterally - which does not end well). To address this requires EU-wide tax laws (many of these already exist, but those are the major loopholes). Should the UK decide to close them all by themselves, it could well have the converse effect of driving businesses currently based in the UK out of the country.

This is even more true as the world changes. Digital and electronic services can be easily produced and consumed in two different places (when you go to a website with some google placed advertisement in it, the servers that performed the analysis and placed the ad may well be located in the US. Or Asia. Or Russia. Or somewhere just up the road. How and where this sort of complex transaction should be taxed is very difficult to figure out and requires at a minimum international co-operation and, as an ideal solution - and international tax framework.

That's unlikely to happen - the nearest we could hope for in the short-medium term is a pan-European tax/regulation system. But the UK is busily pissing off (and on) the EU, so that's not very likely to happen either.

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Stop

Duty, not tax

Time for the government to introduce duty on the production of said coffees at a local level. If it works with booze & fuel, it will work with phonecalls, searches & caffinated brews. Removes the vat manipulation & fraud.

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Coat

She's having a Laffer

The fact that Margaret Hodge, house flipper and therefore tax avoider, has the temerity to grill Starbucks on the very same subject, makes a mocha-ry of the whole process.

I'll buy my coffee from the first exec who has the balls to explain the Laffer curve to the assorted morons we have elected as our leaders.

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Pay unto Caesar what is Caesars

If Starbucks isn't making a profit here I suggest they close down and Costa can pick up the slack at least they paid 15 million tax on lower revenues. If a business isn't making a profit it should clear the way for profitable businesses to deliver what the customers want, what the shareholders want and take social corporate responsibility to do some good in the country they choose to operate in.

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Maybe I'm missing something but tax minimisation isn't illegal and many expax/offshore contractors know a good company who can do this for them, not just the SME or globals.

Tax Evasion is illegal and nobody would claim otherwise.

Contractors, SMEs and corporations are usually very careful about which side of the line they operate on and do everything legally but for their own best interests. The primary interest being keeping as much of the money they get as possible.

Obviously global corporations can afford whole departments to move things around, stay within the laws and minimise their taxes. Whether it's morally right or wrong seems a strange objection when they are not breaking any laws.

Legally many government ministers didn't break any laws, morally and ethically their decisions were questionable, but as they tried to defend 'it was within the rules'

If the UK government wants to stop the losses then sort the laws/legislation out. Trying to stir up ill feeling against corporations because they use the rules to their own advantages to minimise their tax, rather than fixing the rules to make it harder for them to do seems like nothing more than 'we need to appear to be doing something'

Regardless of whether people think it's morally right/wrong or distasteful... how can you attack someone for knowing and using the rules to their own advantage...

How many people, including the government, would honestly do any different?

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Minimum

So these entities paid the minimum tax that they are legally entitled to pay? And that's immoral?

Well that makes pretty much every business and UK tax payer immoral. I've never met anyone who has voluntarily paid more tax than they are legally obliged to. How on earth can politicians judge peoples' morality, many of them having been shown to have been stealing from the taxpayer on a grand scale.

The awareness of a problem, criticism of others, and failing to close the loopholes; that is immoral.

"Politicians are not born, they are excreted."

- Marcus Tullius Cicero

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Stop

Re: Minimum

"Well that makes pretty much every business and UK tax payer immoral. I've never met anyone who has voluntarily paid more tax than they are legally obliged to."

I disagree.

We could all pay less tax, if we all hired accountants and didn't mind shuffling some money around and overseas. The difference is that the typical citizen accepts that he has to pay his fair whack, and their income is sufficiently low that it might not be cost-effective to hire an accountant to play silly-buggers with the money.

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I guess the only solution is to favour tax paying establishments.

Perhaps only running deals with tax paying companies, or inviting them to the special meetings. Or even just the public choosing who to go to (Hmm... not that keen on not using Google, they're quite convenient... :( ) Ditto on Amazon too :(...

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Thumb Down

*cough* Lewis Hamilton *cough*

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