back to article Ed Miliband brands Google's UK tax avoidance 'WRONG'

Ed Miliband launched a caustic attack on Google today, saying: "When Google goes to extraordinary lengths to avoid paying its taxes, I say it’s wrong." The Labour party leader - who was speaking at Google's annual Big Tent event in Watford - accused the "biggest companies" of having a "culture of irresponsibility" when it …

COMMENTS

This topic is closed for new posts.
  1. handle

    Willy Wonka

    Thank you for enlightening me about your Chocolate Factory references, finally. I'm obviously too thick to have worked this out before.

  2. This post has been deleted by a moderator

    1. Dr_N Silver badge

      Re: Governments have lost control over the taxing Corporates

      "What is Nigel Farage's view of this matter?"

      "Fibble Fibble Gibber!"

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Governments have lost control over the taxing Corporates

      More right wing, childish "it's all the fault of the foreigners" bollocks, I'd imagine, you'll probably quite like it if your right-wing childish spoutings are to be believed.

  3. tony
    Happy

    Tax Laws

    So why did he vote for all the tax laws during Labours government that companies are using?

    Did he not understand them or just obeying party orders?

    1. Gav
      Boffin

      Re: Tax Laws

      I think the point is that no-one fully understands all muti-national tax laws. There are thousands of them, are insanely complex and can be combined in an infinite number of ways to be exploited. Close one loop hole, and you more than likely open another.

      The real outrage is that many of the treasury consultants who helped designed our taxes work for companies who, simultaneously, offer advice to the likes of Google on how to avoid paying them.

      So they are paid to design the maze, and then paid again to show people where they left the holes in it.

    2. Jean-Paul

      Re: Tax Laws

      Exactly, if they are doing something wrong by following the rules laid out by the government. Why hasn't the government (especially the 13 years under Labour's policies) done something to change the rules to ensure it fits with their policy.

      I wonder whether Ed Milliband has got any ISA's or say Pension contributions through which he avoids paying tax. And then there is ofcourse his own brother David who is employing exactly the same type of tax avoidance schemes...

      Oh the hypocrasy of it all and cheap point scoring and propaganda, but it surprises me that I am surprised.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Tax Laws

        Blame Mandy? he thought that cutting regulations and letting the UK industries be sold to the highest bidder would raise wages for everyone in the UK. He was wrong and admitted it.

        http://news.bbc.co.uk/today/hi/today/newsid_9687000/9687064.stm

      2. pear

        Re: Tax Laws

        Isas and pension tax breaks are deliberate and the government encourages you to do it. E.g it does not expect you to pay tax on the interest of your first 6 odd grand of savings that year.

        An individual can't be attacked for doing this, in the same way people shouldn't be attacked for claiming child benefit to which they are entitled. You could argue that we shouldn't have ISAS or similar things at all but not that people shouldn't use them when the government puts them there.

        The government doesn't intend for Google to pipe money all around the world just to avoid paying UK tax. The loopholes which Google are using are not intentional tax breaks.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Tax Laws

      The problem is not the law in the UK, but the laws globally. If you fix the problem in the UK then the businesses don't set up a division here.

      All countries have to make co-ordinated changes.

      You can take 0.5% of £32 billion plus a few thousand jobs or 100% of 0% and no jobs, which is a vote winner?

      1. JC_

        @AC 12:53

        The problem is not the law in the UK, but the laws globally. If you fix the problem in the UK then the businesses don't set up a division here.

        All countries have to make co-ordinated changes.

        You can take 0.5% of £32 billion plus a few thousand jobs or 100% of 0% and no jobs, which is a vote winner?

        I agree the coordinated change is desirable, but the temptation to beggar ones neighbour (hello Ireland!) is going to be intense. Ireland has, after all, stated that it will veto EU policy proposals to coordinate tax rates.

        That said, Google is not going to leave the UK market if it's forced to pay tax. For Google, 70% of what they currently have in profit is better than leaving 100% to a competitor that will play by the (new) rules.

        *IMHO, Ireland and the other leeches can fuck off out of the EU; selling out all of the other members in return for a few coins from Google, Intel, Starbucks et al. - they're as bad as the Judas they despise.

    4. ItsNotMe
      Mushroom

      Re: Tax Laws

      "So why did he vote for all the tax laws during Labours government that companies are using?"

      Precisely!

      It is the politicians who have enacted theses tax laws at the behest (a.k.a. lobbying) of the corporations...and NOW they are getting their shorts in a wad over THEIR LAWS?

      Tell you what...don't like what the companies are doing? THEN CHANGE THE F*%&ING LAWS. And that goes for ALL politicians the world over.

      The arses here in the US are just as slimy. Feigning outrage on laws these idiots enacted. What a load of bullshit. Sick to death of them all. Not one of them worth their weight in dog poo.

    5. Paul 185

      Re: Tax Laws

      All of you commentards claiming hypocrisy irritate me no end. Here's a shocking fact for you, politicians say what's popular. Wanna know why? Because a voting system exists where the most popular thing gets the most votes. When he voted yes to those Tax laws, society didn't really give a crap, and lobbying pushing them towards the Google preferential vote.

      Now public opinion has spotted the loophole and lined up against it, so the politician has done his bloody job and gone with public opinion. And you're against that? Seriously? Their job is to be two faced, their job is to represent someone else's opinion. I thought techies were above this Daily Mail bulls-

  4. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

    What a brave and principled politician

    Now go to one of your safe seats in Derby and tell the workers that Rolls Royce is evil for not only paying no UK tax but claiming a multi-million tax refund for "training"

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: What a brave and principled politician

      I think claiming training costs is better than not training at all, which is a fundamental problem with modern capitalism, (as long as the training is training, that the company does lose money, rather than get trainees to do work for little pay and then claim tax rebates/reductions - as in the current exploitation of the terrible apprenticeships scheme launched by this government)

  5. Crisp Silver badge

    This is news?

    Someone ought to tell Miliband that he missed that bandwagon.

  6. Steve Crook
    Flame

    Extraordinary lengths

    Doesn't sound like it. Sounds like this is standard operating procedure for any multinational. Therefore, strictly, it's not extraordinary.

    All Millband and any other politician that doesn't like it needs to do is CHANGE THE LAW. Standing there and berating a multinational for trying to make the most money it legally can seems a bit Canute like. It would also be more impressive if Milliband hadn't been so cosy with Gordon Brown and Ed Balls for 10+ years when they *could* have started to make the tax system simpler and more effective But they didn't, they didn't even talk about sorting it out, because it wasn't a problem was it, because multinationals only started doing this in 2008, and only really seriously since 2010. So what could they have done.

    /rant

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Extraordinary lengths

      Google operate a subsidiary in Ireland, this is where money is collected, this money is funneled into a zero-employee company in Amsterdam, which in turn funnels it to a Caribbean (IIRC) tax haven with no corporation tax.

      This is clearly extra-ordinary, in that it is certainly not ordinary. You don't accidentally end up with a corporate structure like this, it has been carefully planned in order to pay as little tax as possible - lengths have definitely been gone to and they're not ordinary lengths.

      1. Yet Another Commentard

        Re: Extraordinary lengths

        @AC

        Bermuda, not the Caribbean. But otherwise correct. Called a Dutch Sandwich.

        1. Mike Richards Silver badge

          Re: Extraordinary lengths

          'Called a Dutch Sandwich.'

          Whatever you do, don't do an image search for that.

          1. Yet Another Commentard

            Re: Extraordinary lengths

            There's another tax incentive called "roll over relief" and indeed "hold over relief". I shudder to think what Google would make of those too.

            1. Gannon (J.) Dick
              Meh

              Re: Extraordinary lengths

              "bend over relief" ? Not forthcoming, I'm afraid.

  7. DrXym Silver badge

    Well they need to do something about it

    It's very easy to moralise about the big nasty corporation and their creative accounting practices, it's slightly harder yet more fruitful to stop them from doing it in the first place.

    Labour need to say how they'd stop the practice.

    Given that there are various crown dependencies and overseas territories which are notorious tax shelters (Cayman Islands, Gibraltar, Jersey / Sark, Isle of Man etc.), maybe they should start turning the screws on those places and leaning on other countries to do likewise in their spheres of influence.

    1. TheOtherHobbes

      Re: Well they need to do something about it

      If you look into the crown dependencies, you discover an interesting fact - they're not really under parliamentary control.

      Nor is the City of London, which is an independent corporation.

      So the chances of tax shelters suddenly disbursing all those trillions and cutting the taxes the rest of us have to pay is exactly zero.

      1. Yet Another Commentard

        Re: Well they need to do something about it

        As this is for the Crown Dependencies etc. a significant source of income, killing it could ensure we have to send more in aid than we would recover in Tax.

        That's why this is all so much bluster and politicians making noise about it, nothing will be done.

      2. DrXym Silver badge

        Re: Well they need to do something about it

        "If you look into the crown dependencies, you discover an interesting fact - they're not really under parliamentary control."

        I didn't say they were, nor did I imply it being very specific about their relationship to the UK. But they can be leaned on.

        e.g. the UK scrapped the Low Value Consignment Relief which was implemented so Jersey could export things like flowers to the UK but ended up allowing Amazon, Play.com et al to export goods out of the EU, into Jersey and then back into the UK to avoid VAT.

        I'm sure there are various punitive measures and incentives that can be dangled in front of these places to change their minds about particular loopholes.

  8. The BigYin

    Ah-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-!

    And it was Labour who pushed forward with PFI etc which is simply another dodgy accounting ploy to hide the true cost, as well as enrich their tax avoiding chums.

    Our MPs are long on talk, and very short on action when it comes to all this, have you noticed?

    Maybe we should tax hot air!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Ah-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-!

      Thats the co2 tax's

    2. Serge 2

      Re: Ah-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-!

      Simply tax every god damn word that comes out of thier mouths and fine them if its not implemented within a reasonable time frame.

  9. garalus

    politicians

    this whole situation makes me want to laugh (and cry). We have politicians "multinational bashing" because they are avoiding paying millions in taxes because of loopholes put into the tax system by these politicians. But according to the same politicians we should all stop "banker bashing", even though they nearly destroyed the world economy and had to be bailed out to the tune of BILLIONS! Talk about double standards! And they wonder why people distrust politicians.

  10. Shagbag

    "When Google goes to extraordinary lengths to avoid paying its taxes, I say it’s wrong."

    Maybe it's just me, but this type of comment really gives me the shits. How dare he say that any taxpayer is not allowed to structure his/her/their affairs so as to limit the incidence of tax. Imposing taxes is not a God-given right and it shits me when politicians behave as though it is.

    They make the rules. Taxpayers follow them. Some do it stupidly, others are more responsible with THEIR money (not the Government's).

    1. william 10

      Re: They tried to tax you without paying tax themselves.

      Harriet Harman - was revealed to be one of the beneficiaries of a trust set up in her father's will designed to reduce the amount of tax she would eventually pay on his estate.

      Lady Margaret Eve Hodge - shareholder in the family business today the world's largest privately owned steel-trading corporation and the sixth largest British company in private hands, with an annual turnover of over £6Bn 2011, this company seems to pay similar levels of tax to Apple & Google.

      Tony Blair - another person who seems to dodge tax that Miliband should be complaining about.

      The list just keeps growing...........

    2. The Mole

      Re: "When Google goes to extraordinary lengths to avoid paying its taxes, I say it’s wrong."

      In the UK imposing taxes is a God given right if you want to follow (outdated rarely thought about) historical tradition and theology.

      The power to impose taxes is given to Parliament by the crown - taxes can't be imposed without royal assent.

      The power of the crown is given to the monarch during their coronation by the Archbishop of Canterbury in a Christian religious ceremony as the power and grace to rule is considered to be given by God.

      So yes, the power to impose taxes in the UK is a God given right, and there is a big (moral) difference between minimizing your tax affairs by taking advantages of the schemes and systems parliament intended in the law, and avoiding and/or evading tax by deliberately twisting and using contrived structures and reading of the law to go far far beyond what any reasonable person would consider the spirit or intention of the laws.

  11. This post has been deleted by its author

    1. Professor Clifton Shallot

      Re: Pot and kettle

      "Ed Miliband used a 'deed of variation' to his father's will transferring ownership of 40% of the house to himself and his brother, after his father had died. This meant that they only paid tax on the 60% of the house once his mother died."

      His mother is still alive as far as I am aware. David Milliband bought the house in question outright some time ago.

      1. Steve 39

        Re: Pot and kettle

        Yes, you are correct, she is still alive. The point remains though that it has been used as a tool to avoid their eventual inheritance tax liability.

        Search for "ed miliband inheritance tax" to read about it in the Guardian, Telegraph et al.

        1. Professor Clifton Shallot

          Re: Pot and kettle

          " point remains though that it has been used as a tool to avoid their eventual inheritance tax liability."

          Sure. Although not an extraordinary tool perhaps. And of course since he has sold his share of that house and paid tax on the proceeds, not a tool that will ever be employed by him.

          Just trying to clarify the facts - I wouldn't want anyone to think I don't believe politicians are hypocrites.

          1. Steve 39

            Re: Pot and kettle

            The tax avoidance will be employed. His mother's estate will be/was no longer liable for the full amount of inheritance tax. It was passed to Ed/David as a mechanism to avoid tax. If David bought it, it was at a lower price because he already "owned" some of it after the deed of variation in his father's will.

      2. Why Not?

        Re: Pot and kettle

        If you have a child out of wedlock its still illegitimate if you marry later.

        He set up a structure to avoid tax, just because he didn't use it later doesn't mean he isn't guilty of planning to avoid tax. Just because Google did it better doesn't make him any less guilty.

        He & Balls could have done something while in power. They didn't, they made it easier, they also allowed companies to offshore & onshore to avoid tax.

        This isn't a new practice its being going on for decades, its just easier with the Internet and global travel

        1. Tom 38 Silver badge
          Headmaster

          Re: Pot and kettle

          Please, commentards, remember there is a difference between tax avoidance and tax evasion.

          Tax avoidance is entirely legal, moral, natural and a human response to being asked to pay taxes. We all do it - when VAT went up, did you not buy large ticket items in advance before it went up? I know I saved about £50 buying my season ticket in December rather than January.

          I dislike Ed Miliband's policys (or lack thereof), but I don't think more or less of him knowing he has sensibly arranged his affairs to minimise inheritance tax*. If he is doing things by the book, he is/will be paying the right amount of tax for his circumstances, he has just structured his circumstances to minimise how much the revenue can take away.

          Lord Clyde said it best, that's why he got the big bucks:

          No man in the country is under the smallest obligation, moral or other, so to arrange his legal relations to his business or property as to enable the Inland Revenue to put the largest possible shovel in his stores. The Inland Revenue is not slow, and quite rightly, to take every advantage which is open to it under the Taxing Statutes for the purposes of depleting the taxpayer's pocket. And the taxpayer is in like manner entitled to be astute to prevent, so far as he honestly can, the depletion of his means by the Inland Revenue

          The biggest issue affecting us in the UK is that the rules of the EU allow commercial activity to seep out of our country and be registered in another one for tax purposes. I've no problem with google claiming chargebacks for the cost of providing systems to the UK sales teams, or funnelling all the profits after tax to some holding company in the Caymans, but fuck it, revenue and profit from UK sales should result in UK taxes. I don't think we should leave the EU, but some rules have to change.

          * TBH, I reckon David set it all up

          1. Steve 39

            Re: Pot and kettle

            Errr, I didn't call this tax evasion. It is tax avoidance. Which is what Google are doing. Which is what Miliband is complaining about.

            Which is why I call him a hypocrite.

  12. Vimes

    "Power shouldn't accumulate between a few powerful firms," he said.

    This coming from a party that refused to do anything about the illegal interception of communications of tens of thousands of BT customers by BT.

    As an aside the former Labour secretary of state for trade and industry Patricia Hewitt was a non-executive director at BT the last time I checked.

    It must be nice work if you can get it...

  13. The Onymous Coward
    FAIL

    Beating up corporates for using tax avoidance schemes might play well with his core vote, but it's not a big issue for most people in the UK. Otherwise, Tesco and Starbucks outlets nationwide would close down as people vote with their wallets. Corporations don't pay taxes; people do. Companies like Tesco are as cheap as they are mainly because they find and exploit efficiencies. Paying as little tax as possible is just one of those efficiencies. HMRC isn't a charity and people should resist the temptation to talk about paying tax in the same moral terms as donating money to a charity.

    The sad thing is not that some corporates use tax avoidance schemes, but that moronic Milliband will probably be our Prime Minister in a couple of years. That makes me sad not only because I think he's completely unqualified for the job, but also because it will mean that millions of people have been daft enough to vote for him.

    These days, politicians of all stripes are a hateful bunch of self-interested parasites :-(

    /rant

  14. Ageless Stranger

    Apple?

    What about Apple's tax avoidance?

    Is Mr Miliband a fanboi?

  15. g e
    Holmes

    Ed Milliband has made an astonishing discovery

    It's called capitalism, Ed.

  16. MJI Silver badge

    He scares me, and so do voters

    I am literally scared that he MAY get in next election.

    I am also scared that people vote for him.

    1. Vimes

      Re: He scares me, and so do voters

      Is he really any worse than the likes of Ian Duncan-'I can live on £53 a week'-Smith?

      1. MJI Silver badge

        Re: He scares me, and so do voters

        Slightly, but neither Ian nor Duncan will be PM

        There is just something about junior Millipede

        1. Vimes

          Re: He scares me, and so do voters

          OK then, how about Boris 'phone-hacking-is-codswallop' Johnson? The way things are going he could end up being leader sooner rather than later.

          The only point I was trying to make is that people are deluding themselves if they think either side is better than the other. They're all as bad as each other, especially since both sides like to tinker with the tax system rather than fix things properly - with the end result being that we end up with a tax system full of the very loopholes that each party has had a hand in creating.

          1. MJI Silver badge

            Re: He scares me, and so do voters

            Don't worry Cameron is ineffective and Clegg is harmless and not much use.

            Not keen on Farage either - he has the "Used car salesman" look about him.

            I prefered David Davies

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: He scares me, and so do voters

          He look's like Wallace of Wallce and Gromit fame...

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So...

    Interesting comparison of the big profit driven companies having to attract customers doing really well and surviving the recession and the government run monopolies of the UK with their enforced taxation which is doing badly.

    And to shine further light on the playing field it is the gov who sets the laws and the tax rates (the companies just followed the rules set down).

  18. Shasta McNasty
    FAIL

    This sums up Labour

    Late to the party and without any ideas to call their own.

    Farage must be laughing his back off.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Devil

      Re: This sums up Labour

      "Farage must be laughing his back off."

      I doubt it. UKIP has scooped up the disaffected Tory voters (and there aren't many not-disaffected Tory voters), but he's not made much headway with the left wing voters. Curious, because many of the Labour voting peasants tend to have patriotic leanings, a degree of antipathy towards Europe, and a disdain for the establishment - but they can't break that habit of voting for working class heroes like Wedge Benn, Hodge, Blair, and the rest of the silver spoon socialists, who then champion Hampstead "socialism".

      I'm for UKIP myself. Not because Farage is any better than the vermin currently sitting in Westminster, but because he promises to upset the comfortable buggins turn between Labour and Conservatives that has enabled those two to ignore the British electorate with impunity for decades.

  19. IHateWearingATie
    Go

    Easy, just abolish corporation tax

    Economists will tell you it's economically inefficient anyway.

    Tax people on their income and wealth (personal taxes can be increased proportionally to make this revenue neutral)- loopholes are easier to close (though not *easy*, just *easier*) and a number of countries have made some good strides towards this anyway (see the start of banking information exchange with Switzerland for example).

    Taxing profits is just an indirect tax that we all pay anyway (through higher prices), and poor people tend to pay proportionally more.

    1. Andy Fletcher

      Re: Easy, just abolish corporation tax

      I'm not sure why I don't hear this more often. As far as I can tell it's the only way to fix this issue so domestic business can compete, which surely means more jobs, which surely means more PAYE.

  20. Tim 11
    FAIL

    Is this story relevant to el reg?

    Not because it's politics; more because in the 40 years he has been able to speak, Ed Miliband hasn't so far said anything vaguely worth listening to yet, and it doesn't look like he's about to start.

  21. Jody

    0% corporation tax, but tax dividend income like salaries?

    How about this: apply tax on corporate profits at zero, but levy tax on dividend income at the same rate as other income (so 40% for UK citizens earning over £40k or so; 50% for those in top band).

    Pluses: 1) You no longer tax the same flow of money twice (when it is profit and when it is distributed to the company's owners). 2) You encourage lots of businesses to move to UK and employ Brits, who then pay income tax on their salary. 3) You probably raise more money because, I seem to recall, UK citizens earn more from owning oversees shares than is paid out to foreigners by British companies. 4) There is less scope for people setting themselves up as companies to pay less tax.

    Minuses: there would be clever ways this was abused, as there is for any system of taxation. Also, corporation tax is a relatively cheap tax for HMRC.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Little Ed and the Big Tent

    So was he inside pissing out or outside pissing in?

  23. Dan Paul
    Devil

    The solution to the problem is simple

    I propose a flat corporate tax of no less than 20% of gross revenue across the board and a flat personal tax of 15%. No VAT (sales tax) either. The rate would be the same no matter what country it was being applied so there could be no tax havens anywhere. Countries that would not comply would be completely "shunned" and all trade, communication and travel would be PERMANENTLY banned by member nations.

    This would be the end of tax accountancy as we know it. That's ane even greater thing because it would also significantly reduce the amount of lawyers.

    The rich would FINALLY have to pay their fair share as would the Corporations and thus the common middle class man would be paying a fair share instead of most of the tax revenue.

    The best thing would be that the 95% of all IRS and all State tax departments could be abolished. All taxation would take place as the income was generated so no one got a bill unless they were complete idiots. There would be no need for compliance or oversight because there would only be one set of rules and compliance would be baked in to the payment systems.

    I would GLADLY give up all my deductions for a plan such as this.

    If we were smart, we would deport all of those unemployed government workers, accountants and lawyers to Mars so they could not contaminate the remaining workforce

    1. Why Not?
      Boffin

      Re: The solution to the problem is simple

      Problem is what is gross revenue? Costs are being upped offshore.

      Disallowing goods or services that magically pass through a tax haven (without physically being shipped via it) to be counted as costs. As the goods need to be marked with real country of origin and route travelled for customs purposes that should be fairly easy.

      monitoring international costs if StarTaxSucks coffee beans are five times the price of those on the open market send them a tax bill.

      Charge VAT on every import.

      That would level the playing field. Currently goods & carriage under £18 are exempt which is why DVD & CD sales in the UK were severely affected. Personal gifts not as part of trade could still be exempt, so if your Auntie sends you a cardigan she knitted no Vat applies, if she sells to others then she needs to pay.

      If the government made an easy way to for the dispatcher or vendor to pay the Vat (e.g. eBay / Amazon charge and pay the vat on sub £18 goods direct to HMRC maybe via an electronic stamp, they can also confirm the goods are fit to import on pain of having their vat license removed. ) this stops the courier companies gouging the honest buyer for a handling charge as they do now and gets £3.60 a time for the treasury and possibly protects UK business by putting them on a level playing field.

      No vat stamp and goods stay in customs and the vendor pays to get them shipped back or through. If the payment on the stamp bounces same deal.

      We are in a new economy and new rules need to be made. Millipede had the opportunity to do so in the last government and was found wanting. He is just a hypocrite.

    2. The Onymous Coward

      Re: The solution to the problem is simple

      Dan Paul, how would you enact your ridiculous plan? You'd need to get at least several tens of countries to ratify the same tax laws. How easy do you think that would be, on a scale of 1 to Europe? How would you enforce the "shunning" of non-signatories? How would you "ban" communication? And would you really do it permanently? "Sign up to a worldwide tax law now, or forever be North Korea".

      I've said it before and I'll say it again: corporations don't pay taxes, people do. Having a go at the CEOs is what ill-informed people do these days, just like they blamed bank CEOs rather than a useless regulatory system and greedy borrowers for the credit crunch.

      One day, you'll read a book on economics. And you'll be able to formulate much better ideas afterwards.

      1. Dan Paul
        Devil

        Re: The solution to the problem is simple (stop making it more complicated than neccessary)

        The problem is that people like you keep suggesting that we continue doing what has not worked since time began. Corporations are the "Robber Barons" of the 21st Century.

        Pretty obvious to me that those "books on economics" have not been right and I have read enough to be sure that their authors opions have a personal financial motive. You have your opinion, I have mine.

        By the way, corporations are not people, they are faceless, inhumane "Borgs" and they should not have anywhere near the same rights as individual humans do, including campagn contributions. But hey, you're part of the problem, noit part of the solution.

        I never said anything about the difficulty of implementing such ideas and I dont care how difficult it might be, it's the only fair solution.

        Every tax regulation has to be the same everywhere or you will still have tax havens. Every country needs to agree to the same levels or the poverty, war, strife, pestilence we have now will continue.

        Corporations should be held as responsible as any individual to pay their fair share of tax. When corporations think they should be above the law, as it appears you believe, then all others suffer from their tax avoidance, a euphemism for EVASION.

        Remember, the more complex you make something, the more loopholes you require. The flat tax does not require ANY loopholes.

        If you want to conduct business within a group of member nations and have trade agreements then you would have to agree to follow the rules. I don't see that being difficult.

        If you don't agree you deservedly become North Korea (or worse). If the USA changed the tax laws to my concept, there would be such a stampede to move corporate headquarters here that your head would spin right off and fly into orbit. First, think about what they spend on accountants and lawyers and "dutch sandwiches" and software and computing just to account for all this and avoid paying taxes. A flat 20% would be a HUGE REDUCTION in the tax rate for many situations, certainly for those companies in Europe.

        The upshot of all this is that the everyday man will have MORE MONEY TO SPEND OR INVEST because they are not paying to subsidize corporations. That spending will boost the economy. The invesment will boost other market sectors.

        And you have to be friggin kidding me with the ignorant and deluded comment that the CEO's and bank management are not ENTIRELY AND CRIMINALLY RESPONSIBLE for the economic collapse we recently went through.

        Only a douchebag who knew they were responsible for the collapse would say what you did,

        They engineered the whole thing for their own financial benefit. You would have to be complicit to have your opinion on the subject.

        Greedy bankers, lying politicians, accountants, lawyers all deserve to be shunned, forever.

        1. The Onymous Coward
          FAIL

          Re: The solution to the problem is simple (stop making it more complicated than neccessary)

          Sorry, you lost me at "douchebag".

        2. Jean-Paul

          Re: The solution to the problem is simple (stop making it more complicated than neccessary)

          You still don't get it, corporations don't pay for their tax people do ;)

          And remember, each artificial interference by government will affect another group. We don't need the system distorted like that, let capitalism do its thing...

  24. Johnnydub
    FAIL

    Milliband is talking so much horse baloney - if he wants country by country taxation that's easy - leave the EU.

    The EU was explicitly set up that one country could hold the European HQ and that business could be transacted this way. Hence Ireland with it's 12.5% corporation tax rate hoovering up the European presences of the American tech firms.

    If he isn't willing to leave the EU - then stop fucking grandstanding you pratt.

    Oh and by the way, the Climate change act signed when Ed Milliband was Energy minister is going to cost this country £500BN; a hell of a lot more than the current tax avoidance flap. Is he willing to admit what a fucking impending disaster that bit of legislation is?

  25. theflashyblade
    Thumb Up

    Reg readers

    all seem to think they're a few days away from being internet millionaires. That's the only reason I can suppose that they support massive and hugely profitable companies not paying REASONABLE levels of tax.

    Understand this. Labour and the Lib Dems are on the right side of the argument. When you hear Republican Senators attacking Apple's tax affairs, you know the wind has changed. The simple repeated mantra of saying, "it's not against the law" is correct in theory, but wrong in the actualité. There comes a point when society gets pissed off with seeing big companies pay huge salaries and dividends to the already outrageously rich, which shiftily avoiding paying REASONABLE taxes which pay for boring things like hospitals, schools and roads. The fact that the big IT companies have helped the overall economy is irrelevant. Until it seems like they play to the same rules as the rest of us, they will always feel like parasites. It's the attitude that gave Microsoft such a bad name for so long.

    In previous eras of rapid economic growth, such as the Industrial Revolution, there was social pride (often pompous pride) in successful entrepreneurs putting back to society. Titus Salt, Andrew Carnegie, even Rockerfeller in the end. Google/Apple/Amazon etc don't appear to be seriously interested in contributing to anything other than the bottom line. Perhaps we'll be proved wrong in the longer term. Who'd have predicted that Bill Gates would become the world's biggest philanthropists?

    Ultimately, big companies will always try to become monopolies with a licence to print money. And ultimately, it's up to the state to say, bugger off. You can make a fair profit but you can't take the entire society for a ride.

    1. IHateWearingATie

      Re: Reg readers

      The point is that corporation tax is economically inefficient, an that companies don't make money for themselves - they make it for people; through salaries, dividends etc

      Tax people properly, and you don't need to mess around with corporation tax, which when you look at it properly is a regressive indirect tax (like VAT, but with more steps between the consumer and the tax). Regressive taxes always hit the poorer hardest - it's just corporation tax is far enough removed that its hard to see the effect

      I suspect that most commentards would agree that tax is needed to fund society

  26. Jeremy Sanders

    Tax them to be fairer to smaller businesses and taxpayers

    It's all very well not paying tax when politicians have decided that they want to encourage this (e.g. ISAs). It's not ok when you go through tax legislation to find tiny loopholes and use artificial and otherwise bogus structures to avoid tax. International corporations should be assessed as a whole and they should pay tax on profits based on the fraction of sales in a particular country. There should be laws against artificial structures to avoid tax and if you go against the spirit of legislation, then that is wrong.

    When international corporations can avoid tax like this it makes it much harder for smaller businesses to compete with them, and we're left with the corporate high street we have currently. For example, small coffee shops have to pay tax, when the likes of Starbucks can avoid it.

  27. Chris_B

    Pot, kettle, black

    Miliband added: "When Google goes to extraordinary lengths to avoid paying its taxes, I say it’s wrong."

    Let me fix that for you

    "When Politicians go to extraordinary lengths to hide their expenses, I say it’s wrong."

  28. Velv Silver badge
    Go

    His party made the rules.

    Bed. Made. Sleep with the enemy in it.

    Tax avoidance is legal. Aggressive tax avoidance is legal. Until the law is changed, faceless corporations are going to use it to the full extent. And don't for one minute think Governments (all of them) don't - HMRC have little leeway.

  29. Tim 54

    Defending capitalism

    Seems like most posters here want the world run by mega-corporations.

    The issue with tax structures like Googles is not fixed by the flat earthers (I mean tax proponents). Flat tax is still tax and multinationals will still try and avoid it. Nor is it a case of "we'll just have to pay more for goods".

    Tax-avoidance at this scale leads to two factors. The first is that revenues are distorted so that when/if they are taxed they are more likely to end up in the country where the investors are which means we're essentially giving most of the money to US and Gulf-state taxpayers rather than the UK, so we have to make up the difference. EU law is about allowing you to keep the money within Europe, not sliding it out to a tax haven.

    The second factor is that it becomes anti-competitive. The mega-corps effectively end up with a lower level of taxation whereas smaller nimbler potential competitors do not have the advantage, and therefore are unable to compete as effectively for investment or business. Thus undermining the principle of capitalism that the better offering will win out in the end. It's exactly the same reason that the Patent mess is undermining innovation (the system is stacked in favour of existing players). In the long run that also costs us all more.

    Yes Labour didn't fix the problem when in power. That doesn't mean it doesn't need fixing or Milliband is a hypocrite for saying it now. One of the problems of being in power (or management) is that you are so fixated on the immediate issues you lose sight of the long term ones.

    1. GotThumbs
      Boffin

      Re: Defending capitalism

      "Seems like most posters here want the world run by mega-corporations."

      Nope, but we don't want governments to penalize those thinkers who build and advance our societies.......by weighing them down with the forced responsibility of caring for the lazy bast_rds who are simply a drain on society as a whole.

      A flat tax across the board would be fair to all, but then it would also require the lazy bast_rds to put in their fair share. They don't REALLY want to be included in that responsibility and would rather just assign it to someone else.

      Thats the mission of the labor party IMO. Put the responsibility and accountability on others....while excluding themselves.

  30. GotThumbs
    Boffin

    "Fair Share".....How about Google just drops offering its services for free

    Anyone read the book "Atlas Shrugged"

    If you haven't, then you should. Most labour party people would prefer you didn't.

    What everyone fails to address is that Google offers its services for free. The costs of this service is NOT free and its NOT subsidized by the governments.

    It's the thinkers in this world that create and build. If labour party leaning governments/leaders continue to punish these thinkers....then what happens when they give up?

    You don't penalize the thinkers to subsidize the non-thinkers IMO.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "Fair Share".....How about Google just drops offering its services for free

      Please take your Ayn Rand bullshit and fuck off...

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "Fair Share".....How about Google just drops offering its services for free

      If Google's services are so free, what's this massive AdWords bill I just got?

      PS: As a fairly right wing person, I concur with the earlier comment, please fuck off with your Ayn Rand love in. Atlas Shrugged is such a NeoCon wet dream it is shameful. The only reason it still is discussed is that devotees of the book shove it down everyone else's throat.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "Fair Share".....How about Google just drops offering its services for free

      Ayn Rand died penniless relying upon the welfare she railed against throughout her whole life. Her "philosophy" is inconsistent, full of holes and so poorly thought through that the couple of philosophy PHd's that I know refuse to even call it philosophy.

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Mushroom

    Google, Starbucks and Amazon are the new "Jews".

    You'll see: the government will be jackbooting around the place McCarthy style and blaming all their financial ills on them.

    Oh wait.....

  32. W. Anderson

    Google "capitalism" no different than that of Microsoft or Apple

    Ed Miliband 's rant against Google busniess practices in the UK should be tempered with the reality of practices from both Microsoft and Apple in the same accord. However since the extreme "Tax avoidance" practices are of little concern tor paid-for-allegience politicians here in the USA, it is unlikely his objects will gain any reasonable support in UK, since Google, Microsoft, Apple and almost every other large US company will have bought and paid for Members of Parliament as well.

    Good luck with securing fair tax incomes for Brits from the ultra greedy capitalist corporations.

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Throwing stones in Glass Houses, hypocracy, lying weasel politicians.

    He a Socialist (corporatist) politician, a pankster, a member of the political gangster mob trying to confuse us with deceptive lies; he's full of it.

    Corporatist Governments and politicians made and agreed these tax laws and treaties (for various favours), thus he is a hypocrite, so corporations get favours and protection us working people don't; that's not on!

    The simple answer is to remove the problem; cut government down to size (even nothing), and end all the corporatist corporate subsidy and protection, so that all corporations (all government included) lose all their unearned advantage over us and we actually have money to save, like people used to have before government and banks got so insanely greedy.

  34. David 45

    Legal?

    But if it's all legal, where, I ask myself, is the problem? Have we gone down the morality path here? As someone else commented, tax AVOIDANCE is perfectly legal. If the powers-that-be are unhappy about companies and individuals structuring their affairs to avoid paying too much tax, then change the law. Until then, stop grand-standing and trying to name and shame - especially as the words, pot, kettle and black come to mind with certain high-profile names, who just happen to be in politics, also allegedly trying the same "tricks" (I use the word loosely).

  35. All names Taken
    Happy

    UKIP rules for me :-)

    Part of me wonders if this rage against like of Google and Apple is merely a manifestation of deep insecurities associated with over controlling mindsets and personalities not wishing to accept that their intelligence, insight and foreskins are not really that bright and grossly superceded by the talents of others leading to an over-defensive response and profound doubt.

    (maybe foresight? this spellchecker clues mine dish unto dosh

    four two freak lent tee)

  36. All names Taken
    Joke

    ps:

    oooo the dirty little drama queen?

  37. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A great quote though.

    I strongly dislike Labour, and Ed Milliband even more, but I have to admit his writers gave him a great quote:

    "I can’t be the only person here who feels disappointed that such a great company as Google, with such great founding principles, will be reduced to arguing that when it employs thousands of people in Britain, makes billions of pounds of revenue in Britain, it’s fair that it should pay just a fraction of one per cent of that in tax."

  38. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    How about

    Here is an idea: Zero corporate tax. 130% employee income tax that must be paid by the employer. Or something along those lines. Try avoiding that...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: How about

      > Try avoiding that...

      How about sacking most of your workers? Let's face it, a lot of these large companies are pretty automated anyway. You might find that you take a lot less tax from the likes of Google and Amazon.

      And the big nebs typically take a minimum wage but draw their income via other means that are more tax efficient.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: How about

      @AC:

      "Here is an idea: Zero corporate tax. 130% employee income tax that must be paid by the employer. Or something along those lines. Try avoiding that..."

      Easy. Most big businesses leave except those who hire the self employed contractors. And if you want to apply heavy tax on them then money travels under the table.

      If they want to avoid it. And if they want to avoid it they dont consider it important or right. Maybe the root of the problem is why tax is not seen as right or important. Probably because we watch our money being abused with nothing left when a recession hits.

  39. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    In shock news Miliband is right about something!

    Is this a first? But then there are very few who would disagree with an opinion that Google and others are robbing us.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: In shock news Miliband is right about something!

      @AC:

      "Is this a first? But then there are very few who would disagree with an opinion that Google and others are robbing us."

      Interesting that you consider the enforced taking of money by a gang who feel they are better suited to spend your money as better than choosing to spend it with google. When did supporting the thief become popular?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: In shock news Miliband is right about something!

        @AC 08:11 - Are you channeling the spirit of Ayn Rand? What a load of nonsense. We voted the government in, we can vote them out, I don't know anyone except some of the more swivel eyed loons who thinks that tax is theft.

        And, yes, government can spend tax better than random corporations, for a start they're accountable.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: In shock news Miliband is right about something!

          @AC 09:48:

          "Are you channeling the spirit of Ayn Rand? What a load of nonsense. We voted the government in, we can vote them out, I don't know anyone except some of the more swivel eyed loons who thinks that tax is theft.

          And, yes, government can spend tax better than random corporations, for a start they're accountable."

          You can vote in a gov and vote out a gov, that is why you elect almost nothing of the EU... oops. You can vote for lemon 1, lemon 2 or lemon 3. Lemon 3 has no chance of getting in especially after forming a coalition with lemon 2 and people cried because they didnt get what they voted for (which they did). Election promises out of the window we have the choice to vote soon for still a lemon 1,2 and 3. There is UKIP which at least is a party which chooses to be right of centre instead of everything to nobody, but they too could turn out to be lemons when tested.

          So we have tax, in other countries a protection fee. You pay it or suffer persecution by the ruling gang no matter how hard you work for it. As a collective pot to support each other it sounds ok, but when it is used against us or stuffed into political pockets (expenses) they are robbing the tax payer. And unlike google we have to pay tax, we can choose to pay google for services.

          And yet this money doesnt come from businesses, businesses are set up and run by people. So money is taken from people.

          To sum up- money is taken from people by enforced tax/protection fee and stuffed into the pockets of politicians and handed to the unaccountable EU you dont even get to vote for.

          I will add that I am not against fair taxation. Although everyone is bound to have their own version of fair which is why the few 'elected' and unelected leaders make the rules. And yet companies who have to attract customers to pay are doing better than the enforced monopolies of the gov even though the gov make the rules!

          This is the world you created. Sorry.. voted for.

  40. Richard Cranium

    The chocolate factory should use Cadbury's as a model...

    Eric Schmidt said of Google's tax avoidance "It's called capitalism. We are proudly capitalistic. I'm not confused about this." Well Eric it's not "ethical capitalism".

    I used to live on Cadbury's Bournville estate in Birmingham, called "the Factory in a garden".

    Like many 19th century capitalists the Cadbury family had a sense of responsibility to society and the community. They built good quality housing not only for their workers but also integrated homes for other professionals essential to a community - teachers, doctors. They built the local hospital (The Woodlands), they provided a holiday retreat for inner city slum kids, they donated an area of local countryside to the community (the Lickey Hills). In effect they had "planning laws" in advance of many we have today resulting in some of the most pleasant places to live, wide roads with wide grassy verges, mixed housing styles and sizes on the same street and plenty of well landscaped and maintained open spaces.

    The beneficiaries were not just their own workers but a wide cross section of society.

    Capitalism is often portrayed by the left as intrinsically "evil" and Google (and Apple, and Amazon) are trying hard to prove them right.

    The reality is that many of our great institutions were founded and funded by successful business people and NOT as the result of legislation forcing them to and it continues today with such as the Bill & Melinda Gates foundation.

    But perhaps we should put another interpretation on Google's moniker of "The chocolate factory", the term is also used as a vulgar term for the anus.

    My solution for businesses operating in UK and not paying their fair share is nationalisation of their UK operation.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The chocolate factory should use Cadbury's as a model...

      Also see, Sir Titus Salt, the three benefactors who basically built Reading, Fry's, the Quaker company etc. etc.

  41. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Ed Miliband brands Google's UK tax avoidance 'WRONG'

    I couldn't agree more.

    Only those hypocritical bastard MPs have the right to avoid paying any tax.

  42. Ray Foulkes
    Unhappy

    Buying at inflated prices

    What gets me is the inequality between businesses and individuals. What do you suppose would happen if an employer in the UK said to a member of staff "I will buy your old television for £8300 - nudge nudge, wink wink" i.e transfering money to the employee by purchasing something from them at heavily inflated and unreasonable prices? The IR would be on them like a ton of bricks. So how can a company charge a subsidiary over the odds for "corporate products" and get away with it when individuals cannot?

    I am all for the "reasonable price of coffee beans" test and not accept company accounts where the IR determines that inflated transfer prices have been used.

This topic is closed for new posts.

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2019