back to article Do you really want tech companies to pay more tax?

World+dog is grumpy with Apple, Microsoft, Google and plenty of other multinational companies, because they do legal-but-tricky things to avoid paying tax. But you, dear readers, might have a good reason to let them all off the hook, because you probably own shares in at least one. There's a good chance you don't know about …

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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Do you really want tech companies to pay more tax?

    Yes.

    Apple and Microsoft et al may not exist by the time I retire.

    The GFC has amply demonstrated that the financial 'experts' who run pension funds will be unable to either predict or shield my 401K 201K from massive damage should these current titans suffer from a disruption a la Kodak.

    If they pay taxes now then the money can be used to fund services I will need.

    1. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

      Do you really want the governments to collect more tax?

      Because we really need a new NHS/fire service/police national IT system to scrapped after the £100,000,000 budget has been overrun by a factor of five. If you give them more money, they will only waste it on something else, like a new internet filter to cut out any references to government waste - after all imagine the damage it would cause if children found such sites.

      You have some choice about where to put your investments. You have less and less choice about where governments waste tax payers' money.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Do you really want the governments to collect more tax?

        If the tech giants paid more then the PAYE employee (the people who can't dodge tax) could pay a bit less.

        1. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

          Reduced PAYE?

          Option A) tech giants increase their prices to pay their new taxes, cancelling out any reductions in PAYE.

          Option B) Government spending increases to match increased revenue, so there will be no room in the budget for reducing PAYE.

          Option C) Politicians continue to manufacture prolefeed about tech giants avoiding taxes, but do not make any effective changes to taxation.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Reduced PAYE?

            and anyone who has ever heard a politician speak - in particular the sanctimonious hypocrite who chairs the Public Accounts Committee - knows it will be Option C.

          2. Tom 13

            Re: but do not make any effective changes to taxation.

            Oh, I think that on the strict definition of the word "effective" they will. It's just that you and I don't regard increasing the lining of their pockets as good.

    2. LDS Silver badge

      Re: Do you really want tech companies to pay more tax?

      Yes, ask those who had their retirement plans built on Enron shares.... which incidentally had an AAA rating just before the news about it was banrupt run....

      1. Mad Mike

        Re: Do you really want tech companies to pay more tax?

        Not to mention RBS. Another classic example.

    3. MyffyW Silver badge
      Paris Hilton

      Re: Do you really want tech companies to pay more tax?

      I'd quite like everybody to pay their fair share of taxes (discuss...)

      It seems to me the fairest place to do this is on all income as it is paid to a human being (not a company, corporation, not-for-profit-free-range-balsamic-hedge-fund thingummy)

      So scrap corporation tax, and chase the rich for their personal income tax contributions.

      1. Suricou Raven

        Re: Do you really want tech companies to pay more tax?

        But there are ways to dodge this too. A CEO might be paid only a token salary, but also enjoy a few extra benefits - a company home (small mansion), a company car (lamborgini), a company jet for those vital business conferences with other managers in Hawaii, company health insurance plan, etc. Plenty of ways to enjoy the wealth without actually legally owning it.

        It's the same trick used by many televangalists in the US - they have as much of their property as possible owned by their church (ie, tax-exempt organisation) and just rent their mansion for a $1/yr peppercorn.

        1. DougS Silver badge

          @Suricou Raven 11:33

          Those 'dodges' as you call them will not dodge taxes. At least in the US, you are taxed on the fair value of non-monetary compensation as well. So if you get a company car, you are taxed on what it would cost to lease that car.

          The televangelist scheme won't work either. The church may charge the guy only $1/year to lease the mansion, but he's required to pay taxes on the fair market value of the lease. If it would cost $500,000 to lease a lavish mansion similar to the one he has, he must pay taxes on the $499,999 difference.

          A lot of the audits on people with higher incomes concerns this sort of thing, where taxation isn't easy to figure since estimates of 'fair market value' and similar. Obviously it is in their best interest to choose the minimum value for such items they think they can get away with. If the IRS disagrees they'll generally just assess you for the additional taxes and there will be no penalty. Penalties only apply when the IRS believes you were acting in bad faith - i.e. saying "OK, my mansion would cost more than $1/year to lease, so I'll call it $50,000/year". That would be fine for a large house, but if it was a mansion assessed at $6 million it is clearly ridiculous to think that the fair market lease price could be only $50,000/year.

      2. akhnaten

        Re: Do you really want tech companies to pay more tax?

        This is something to consider. To be effective however, taxation should not be based on people, rather on accounts. Anytime money leaves an account X% goes to the government. This is the only way to avoid loopholes in tax law.

      3. MonkeyCee Silver badge
        Gimp

        Re: Do you really want tech companies to pay more tax?

        "So scrap corporation tax, and chase the rich for their personal income tax contributions."

        Because it's well known that the rich get their dividends/wages/benefits paid out in a clear and observable fashion. Rather than have monies being held by a trust, or say a corporation that they own. Because the rich would never pay someone to save themselves tax.

        I'm all for scrapping taxes that stymie economic activity and encourage rent gathering rather than creating value. So scrap income tax and VAT, and gather taxes on land ownership (the owners of the freehold) and wealth tax. You know, set an acceptable amount of stuff you can have (say 10 million quid) and you owe 0.1% of the value of everything else each year to the state.

        Or if we really want to keep the current system as is, grow some balls and get aggressive with money laundering laws and benefiting from past crimes. Please prove all your wealth was legally obtained, and due taxes paid. Start at the biggest and work your way down. Except that the current system is all about protecting all the immorally acquired wealth from any re-distribution.

        And invade the bloody tax havens. The UK is probably the worst for it in the world, we don't just have tax havens, we have so many they can grouped into differing types. The US is pretty bad for it too, although that's the different states trying to play tax haven against each other. Be nice to have some required legal consistency too regarding where a company is registered and where it pays tax (especially Ireland, with the delightful no-tax-on-transfers despite one of the companies, despite being registered in Ireland, never pays tax in Ireland since it's based elsewhere. So registration counts for being Irish (and part of EU) but the actual company can be elsewhere. The Dutch sandwich is at least understandable where it comes from (legitimate avoidance of double taxation) but it's a pretty dodgy use of it to shift profits around.

        I'd be happy if the elites running the show seemed to be able to do it. But they can't, they got to their places mainly through luck, and refusing to accept this means they genuinely believe they (and their progeny) are smarter and better. So they squeeze and shit on the middle classes as much as possible, without realising that they create their own demise. When scoundrels and patriots plot together and all that.

        Not really keen on revolution tho. Last few times ended up with some pretty big wars. Guess the elites would rather smash the plate than share the pie :)

    4. Keith 72

      Re: Do you really want tech companies to pay more tax?

      I love how you idiots think that it'd be great it companies paid more tax. Companies aim to make a profit; profit in it's simplest form is revenue less costs. If you increase their costs they increase their prices. So you cretins that bang on about how morally wanton these companies are just want to pay even more tax when shopping by forcing retailers to pay more tax, which they will then factor into the price. I guess the PAYE and VAT we already pay just isn't enough is it?

      1. LDS Silver badge

        Re: Do you really want tech companies to pay more tax?

        You idiot fail to understand companies set prices the higher they can before too many customers - within their target - stop buying. If they have a recognized brand (Apple, Audi, Armani, ecc.) they will set higher prices just because of it. Many products are not cheaper at all because their makers don't pay taxes, because companies aim at *maximizing* profits, thereby if they can sell at higher prices and pay less taxes they'll do both. While if they pay more taxes but their prices are already at the maximum they can sell to their customers they won't increase price or the risk is to decrease sales as well.

      2. Ian Michael Gumby Silver badge
        Boffin

        Re: Do you really want tech companies to pay more tax?

        "I love how you idiots think that it'd be great it companies paid more tax. Companies aim to make a profit; profit in it's simplest form is revenue less costs."

        Said companies exhort tax rebates on the promise of keeping jobs in the local economies.

        These companies have billions of dollars sitting offshore not being used because they can't bring the profits back to the shareholder, or to the corporate HQ. Not to mention that they are using 'legal' tax dodges which don't really equate any additional value to the shareholders except in terms of bonuses for their C level executives.

        Were Apple, Microsoft, and IBM to lose their loopholes (which BTW they admitted to wanted to see fixed) they would help improve their states's budget deficits which are providing basic services and then some.

        Oh and I forgot to add Google in there too.

        The key here is that if that money were honestly put back in to the coffers and honestly spent properly (Note that would mean you need an honest civil servant/politician behind it...) We would all see a better quality of life.

    5. Tom 38 Silver badge
      Mushroom

      Re: Do you really want tech companies to pay more tax?

      This entirely spurious argument - "Tech companies are in your retirement portfolio and therefore can't be taxed" - is so completely and obnoxiously slanted towards the baby boomer mindset. They own the country, their politicians have loaded us up with public debt, and now we can't tax profits because it upsets their final salary pension? Fuck off

  2. ecofeco Silver badge

    Pay more taxes?

    Besides zero? Yes. Yes they should. And not just tech companies, but almost all top corporations.

    Considering most people (at least in the US) really aren't affected by dividends and returns because, well, they have NO retirement, pensions or saving due decade after decade of cyclical recessions and stagnate wages, a hit to the billions in profit isn't really going to affect them either.

    The US workforce population is approx 156,000,000. Of that, 72,000,000 (almost half of the 156 million) make $500 a week or less. (that's £324) Tried living on that lately? Without free healthcare? Or free college/uni? Bad to non-existent mass transit? Or basically any kind of assistance? (American welfare is a joke compared to the rest of the civilized world)

    A study done several years ago showed that in almost any given year, HALF of ALL large corporations in the US, both domestic and foreign, pay NO federal income taxes. Combined with millions of jobs being offshored, it's not rocket surgery to see why the deficit is so high. A severely diminished tax base will do that. Of course the spending and waste doesn't help either, but that's only one side of the problem.

    Meanwhile, regulatory agencies are starved for funds, allowing the large corps to literally get away with murder, while public infrastructure continues to fail.

    So it would seem that, yes, world+dog have a legitimate complaint. One that WILL eventually boil over. Ask Marie Antoinette how that turned out.

    1. Persona non grata

      Re: Pay more taxes?

      It's also worth pointing out that the best period for sustained growth in the USA was the 1950s - when corporate and personal income taxes were at their highest.

      Reducing taxes simply makes the rich richer at the expense of everyone else.

      Corporate tax since then has dropped from around a 35% of the tax pool to less than 2%. Corporates have bought their own tax laws and now want to not only pay no tax but also be given money for free. It's a race to the bottom for the rest of us and the job of our elected representatives is to stop this.

      So yes, we should want corporations (all of them, IT isn't special in this regard) to pay their share of tax.

    2. Donn Bly
      Holmes

      Re: Pay more taxes?

      It is true that many/most corporations don't pay much in the way of taxes - but that is because those profits are passed on to the shareholders (especially in smaller corporations) retaining little to be taxed upon. Those shareholders, however, pay the tax on that income.

      So, the tax on the income IS paid, just not by the corporation.

      Some people want the corporations to pay the tax, AND want the shareholders to pay the tax - basically taxing the same income twice. I prefer that governments stop spending more than they take in and live within their means just like the rest of us.

      1. Carl W

        Re: Pay more taxes?

        In the UK at least, dividends are distributed after taxation so your argument doesn't stand up.

        1. Tom 13

          Re: In the UK at least

          Same in the US, hence the double taxation argument against corporate taxes.

          1. LDS Silver badge

            Re: In the UK at least

            Well, VAT is another kind of double taxation - we pay sales taxes with money already taxed, but noone argue against it, instead economist would like to increase it to shift taxation from rich incomes to lower ones...

      2. David Hicks
        Stop

        Re: Pay more taxes?

        >> It is true that many/most corporations don't pay much in the way of taxes - but that is because those profits are passed on to the shareholders

        No, no they aren't.

        They are accumulated in tax havens. They are hoarded. Shareholders of (for instance) Apple stock have already started to complain that they aren't seeing their cut and the money isn't being invested either.

      3. rh587 Bronze badge

        Re: Pay more taxes?

        Not sure why the downvotes. As other commentators have mentioned, businesses don't pay tax - their shareholders, employees and customers pay taxes. Corporation Tax is often just a convenient place to pick up the tab.

        - Keep money in the company coffers? Pay more corporation tax, but shareholder dividends and staff bonuses take a tumble (along with direct tax revenues from those personal incomes as well as VAT on the stuff those people buy).

        - Get rid of all your profit by paying shareholder dividends and staff bonuses? The shareholders and employees get taxed, both on the income and the stuff they buy with it.

        - Offshore your profits? All well and good but there isn't that much space or industry on Bermuda - if you want to repatriate them back to somewhere you actually do business, you'll get stung bringing it back in. It's just a short term measure working on the principle that sooner or later a government will come to power that drops corporation tax a bit or holds an amnesty.

        Make no mistake, the government gets it's share somewhere along the line.

        1. LDS Silver badge

          Re: Pay more taxes?

          1) Dividends in most jurisdictions pay far less taxes than income/corporate taxes. And may pay 0% somewhere.

          2) Given most shares are owned by large investors, there's no correlation between corporate taxes and VAT income, sales, and the like. Reducing income taxes will have a far better impact on sales.

          3) Companies *do* offshore profits - because that's the only way to avoid taxes - and then ask governments to be able to reimpatriate them at very low taxes - usually one digit ones - promising to invest them in new jobs, reasearch, ecc. ecc. - but then use them for buybacks and the like as it happened recently in the US...

        2. Tom 13

          Re: Not sure why the downvotes.

          It has nothing to do with how rational your arguments are. It's a UK site with a lot of bleed-over from US low information voters. They're all socialists so you are attacking them personally with facts. They hate that even more than they hate the thought that somewhere someone might actually be making a profit.

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Pay more taxes?

        "It is true that many/most corporations don't pay much in the way of taxes - but that is because those profits are passed on to the shareholders (especially in smaller corporations) retaining little to be taxed upon. Those shareholders, however, pay the tax on that income.

        So, the tax on the income IS paid, just not by the corporation.

        Some people want the corporations to pay the tax, AND want the shareholders to pay the tax - basically taxing the same income twice. I prefer that governments stop spending more than they take in and live within their means just like the rest of us."

        Not quite, corporation tax is calculated on the "pre-dividend" profit (ie, the company *is* paying CT on them), then the shareholders pay income tax on them (if applicable).

        https://www.gov.uk/running-a-limited-company/taking-money-out-of-a-limited-company

      5. MonkeyCee Silver badge

        Re: Pay more taxes?

        "basically taxing the same income twice."

        Like VAT then. Or VAT that has put on top of other taxes (fuel, council).

        Or how about paying twice (or more) for the same things. Like state assets (paid for by taxpayers) that get sold off (for pennies on the dollar) that we all then have to pay more for. And when these previous state utilities (water and rail I'm thinking off here, but power too) require some major investment, well it's back to the taxpayer.

        If I get to buy something with money I earn, I consider myself lucky I'm only getting taxed twice on it. I guess if I was a corporate entity, then I wouldn't. Maybe we just need to get every person to incorporate themselves.

        Never understood the "OMFG! Double tax!! Oh noes" from the corps either. As pointed out all over the place, they just get charge more. Corps will happily charge you for every extra cost that comes their way, plus a few that don't. See Apple pricing in Australia, it's like they factor GST at 40%, and that AUS:USA is 1.2:1.

        PS If you think you can run a government budget like a household budget then you to read around the subject area a bit more. When you're at the point of shaking your head, and saying "this is insane" and "but surely this is a ponzi scheme, only with an army to back it up" then you've probably got it. Oh, and bear in mind that in the US and UK, around 50% of the workforce is directly or indirectly indirectly working for the taxpayer. So all that PAYE and NI from those jobs is not really tax take, the only benefits are the ones to society (people made well, stuff not on fire, protesters beaten).

  3. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

    "How ready are you to give up cheap books and cloud"

    Very. There won't be pension funds by the time I retire. That tax money funds my health care system directly. It does not get given to the same spendfree baby boomers that got our entire planet into this mess in the first place. As far as I am concerned the entire baby boomer generation should have their financial management licences revoked en masse.

    There are double the number of these retiring "want-it-all"s than there are members of my generation. They honestly and earnestly believe that they are somehow entitled the fruits of other people's labour after having spent the past two decades raping my generation's future and trying to reduce the "entitlements" of their parents.

    Now that this pack of self-centered "me, me, me" geezers is finally retiring they are facing the prospect of actually having to live with the consequences of their own asshattery. Too bad. I'll weep not a single salty tear for them and they can have not a bent penny more than would be gleaned by playing within the rules.

    And oh yes...I'm entirely in favour of changing the rules to close loopholes. The boomers spend two decades fucking our entire planet sideways, in the face with an angry gorilla. Now that Gen X is coming to power - and Gen Y hot on our heels - we're going to start to put things to rights.

    So just don't you fret about climate change, racism, homosexuals, women in the workplace, entitlements or any of that other stuff that kept you up at night. Just breathe deeply; Gen X is now going to start down the long road to redemption (though the burden for fixing ecological damage will sadly fall mostly on Gen Y) and as for you boomer fucks?

    We're putting your asses in a home. The ones you see on your precious Fox News.

    1. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

      There haven't been state pension funds for decades

      They were spent ages ago, and my national insurance contributions go on military contracts(*1) to create local jobs (*2), fibre optic cables that BT will charge me to use, broken software for state run services, pensioners and people requiring medical treatment now. I will not be able to retire. The problem is Parkinson's law. To keep the number of bureaucrats rising at the required rate, retirement age will increase to life expectancy within my life time. There will be no pensioners, and later, no schools as children will all be apprentice bureaucrats.

      If you want to prevent a baby-boom generation taxing a smaller generation into starvation to pay their pensions then you would have to over-throw democracy because they have more votes. What remains of democracy will not last long. I can understand why you parrot the party line. If you do not become a plusgood duckspeaker, you will be sent to the front line in the war against Eastasia.

      PS: You are probably right about the place I will end up, but the technical term for the retirement home you refer to is a joyfarm.

      *1 A contract that is delayed, overruns its budget and if it isn't cancelled adds even more junk to warehouses full of defective weapons.

      *2 The company has a local name, but the labour is done abroad.

      1. Rampant Spaniel

        Re: There haven't been state pension funds for decades

        On Military contracts.

        I see the value in keeping a domestic production capability. I used to live not far from BAE in Lancashire and their car park was full of Lotus and TVR's. It has a knock on effect on the economy, not just cars but housing, shops, suppliers etc. There was also a huge element of pride, lets face it, as awesome as TVR's were, you didn't buy one for reliability. You got it because it was made in a shed in Blackpool and did 180mph for 30k and was staggeringly beautiful. Although we may want to focus more specifically on certain areas of provisioning i.e. local carriers and yankee aircraft.

        What we need to do is ensure we make the right choice first time and stick with it. We seem to not know what we want, then repeatedly throw money at changing contracts back and forth. The carrier\s debacle is a perfect example. We also need to make sure we are buying something we will actually need for a significant amount of time, i.e. it is versatile without insanely expensive refits, like the Eurofighter.

        I think this can only start to happen when we hold people accountable for their screw ups. If MP's & civil servants had to pay for these screw ups out of their pension fund they may start to get it right and be less likely to throw away public money over ideological tantrums.

        The same can be applied to most public purchasing, especially IT projects. No accountability so they don't give a flying ****. Make it so that it's their wedding tackle dangling over the shredder and they will be more prudent.

      2. John Sager

        Re: There haven't been state pension funds for decades

        Apparently (in the UK at least), the state pension was conceived as an insurance scheme that was designed only to provide for the minority of people who just happened to survive to 65. With hindsight it surprises me that the govt didn't increase the state pension age much sooner. The usual political pusillanimity in the face of unpleasant policy decisions I suppose. As a baby-boomer myself I guess I'm a net beneficiary, but I don't think I'll be doing much SKIing, as I can see my kids will need a lot of it, and no doubt the govt will eventually tighten the screw on us because they'll have to, pusillanimity or no.

        1. Mad Mike

          Re: There haven't been state pension funds for decades

          @John Sager.

          Absolutely spot on. National Insurance was aptly named. The average life expectancy was little higher than the pension age in those days. Politicians have refused to deal with this timebomb for decades. It was obvious even in the 60s and certainly the 70s. They could have gradually raised the pension age to keep the average retirement years the same proportion. We now have an average life expectancy of about 85ish, which suggest the best part of 20 years in retirement, funded by the same contributions that funded either nothing or a few years at best in the past. Simply doesn't work.

          The other aspect to National Insurance was the NHS, which has been a great success, but in many ways, too much. It now deals with far more than was ever expected and therefore the costs have gone exponential and will continue unless something is done about it. There are many treatments now available that would be laughed at by those who created it. People are beginning to expect it to cover just about anything medical, which is simply not practical. There needs to be a real debate on what is and what is not covered by the NHS. For instance.....weight loss surgery. If someone doesn't have the will to diet and reduce weight, is it up to the NHS to come up with some other solution? The best solution is dieting, not surgery which has all sorts of nasty side effects. What about IVF? What about plastic surgery? What about self-inflicted illnesses, such as those associated with long term smoking?

          Not saying what's right and what's wrong, but people need to realise these can't all be funded and a grown up debate needs to be had on what can be afforded and is reasonable.

          1. John Hughes
            WTF?

            Re: There haven't been state pension funds for decades

            ":NHS, [...] costs have gone exponential"

            Rising to an amazing 9% of GDP, more or less the OECD average.

            Don't Panic.

        2. rh587 Bronze badge

          Re: There haven't been state pension funds for decades

          Quite. Pensions worked on the principle you worked for 45 years and died within 10 years of retiring.

          Now people want to pay in for 35 and retire for 35.

          As someone near the start of their career I fully expect to work past 80 (unless I have a genius idea that earns me megabucks somewhere along the line).

          On the flip side I expect to live well past 100 - and in good health. Look at medicine 50 years ago and look at where it will be in another 60. Body rebuilds, a much more complete understanding of the brain, the defeat of parkinson's, alzheimer's, etc. Assuming I don't die in a car accident or some other untimely manner, I'll get my 20+ years of retirement. I'll just have to pay for it - not like the (very large) number of baby boomer's who's generous final salary pensions my (much smaller) generation are paying for.

          Basic demographics, we've got a relatively small cohort in the 20-40 bracket who will have to cough up to keep a much larger cohort in the 50-70 bracket in drugs and old people's homes into their 90s because they all want to retire at 60-65 like their parents, despite having a much longer life expectancy. Basic maths says that ain't sustainable.

      3. Rukario
        Big Brother

        Re: There haven't been state pension funds for decades

        > PS: You are probably right about the place I will end up, but the technical term for the retirement home you refer to is a joyfarm.

        It's joycamp. (And even that is only mentioned in the appendix.)

      4. ecofeco Silver badge
        FAIL

        Re: There haven't been state pension funds for decades

        >If you want to prevent a baby-boom generation taxing a smaller generation

        FUD.

        Gen X and Y combined are almost twice the size of the boomers.

    2. Rampant Spaniel

      Couldn't have said it better.

      Trev for supreme ruler (or at least protractor)

      1. frank ly Silver badge

        @Rampant Spaniel Re: Couldn't have said it better.

        He seems to be acting as a divider in this case. He's probably multi-functional.

    3. jake Silver badge

      @Trevor (was: Re: "How ready are you to give up cheap books and cloud")

      You are a part of the problem.

      HTH, HAND.

    4. bert_fe

      Re: "How ready are you to give up cheap books and cloud"

      I have a very satisfactory government pension. I started by working for a pittance while studying at night school four days a week after an eight hour day in 1968. I live in a modest home in Melbourne Australia worth about $600k Aus. This house was paid for more than once after a couple of divorces. My forty years in scientific research was poorly paid but very rewarding. How dare you think that your generation of spoilt brats who have not produced anything of substance is ready to inherit the world! You are typical of non performers blaming others for you perceived lack of recognition.

      It was my generation building on all the previous generations that invented the world of technology you take for granted as a birthright! Can you show me what gen X and Y have done apart from complain that we got here first.

      Paying tax by all is what gives us a complex society. Any entity that shirks this responsibility has no rights to trade in a society they do not materially support. Bert

    5. Sestun
      Thumb Down

      Re: "How ready are you to give up cheap books and cloud"

      Trevor, I'm a boomer, I've paid taxes all my life to support your generation and paid very high taxes for previous generations and the ones after me. I've worked hard and suffered during my working life and don't have al lot to show for it. Unlike you lot as a child my parents couldn't afford lots of pressies and crap for me and unlike most of you lot I studied part time for my education instead of having a gap year and going to Uni. I have paid throughout my life for the future pension you want to steal off me, I have never "wanted-it-all" nor actually "had-it-all" although your generation seem to.

      I have detested the obnoxious greed that took off with a vengeance in the 1980's just in time to benefit the younger generations. I have been unable to move house as I could not afford to as house prices rocketed due to that same greed, despite it being to small for the two children we had.

      In short Trevor, most of your selfish generation would not have put up with my life and just as things are starting to improve for me you want to take it off me.

      Incidentally, the hippies of my generation (many of who became the captains of industry who really created this mess) also thought they could do better than their predecessors, and they looked really practical geniuses compared to Gen X, so I don't hold out much hope for you.

      Finally, when this miserable system does collapse you won't just be able to throw things away when they get old, tatty and break down, they will have to be repaired as things did when we were young, (and I still do) and you will need us to show you how to fix them, so don't dump us just yet.

      1. DavCrav Silver badge

        @Sestun: Re: "How ready are you to give up cheap books and cloud"

        (I'm going to use the UK tax system here because, well, it's a UK site.)

        I'm in my early 30s. No, you haven't paid taxes all your life to support my generation, and you haven't paid high taxes to support previous generations. Maybe if you are rich, but if you are an average worker then your total taxes paid only just about covers what you get out in pension and NHS treatment.

        Just work it out: the state pension is £110 odd a week, but with pension credit it's about £145/week, which sounds rubbish, but it's about £7500/year. The average person retiring now will live to about 85, so that's 20 years of that. Most people work about 40 years or so (I'm taking account of unemployment and that large group of non-tax contributors of that generation: women), and so about £3750/year of their tax goes *just on their pension*.

        A low earner, with pay less than about £20k/year, and there are still lots of them, although they are mostly young so you don't care about them, has a tax rate of around 20%, so pays around £4k/year in tax, which is a pretty similar number to the £3750/year that is needed to break even on the pension.

        But there's also the NHS. Old people are the greatest burden on the NHS, far more than smokers or drinkers, which are the ones vilified in the press over the "strain" they put on the NHS (the reality is that they reduce the pressure). Each old person costs the NHS, on average, about the same as they do in pension.

        Oh, and don't forget that you went to school too.

        The reality is that most pensioners and soon-to-be pensioners have not paid in what they personally have taken out. And that's before you think about other departments like transport, defence, etc.

        Now let's look at my situation. I am paying for the pensions of people older than me in the full knowledge that I'm being lied to and there will be no state pension when I reach 68, or 75, or whenever we will pretend the retirement age will be when I get there.

        I've also witnessed the largest intergenerational theft in history, namely house prices. When my dad bought his house, in the 1970s, it cost 1.5 times his annual salary, and he was a factory worker. I am a (junior) university lecturer, so not well paid but better than most, and my house that I bought last year was 8 times my salary, only affordable with my girlfriend. Where has the money gone? To old people.

        Throw in the national debt, which is directly stealing from unborn generations, and the fact that I'm still far from paying off my student loan for the obligatory university education that younger people now must have, that was free and not so important in previous generations, and the bill for younger people just grows.

        Old people had better hope that the people in their 20s and 30s don't notice that all their money has gone to subsidize the lifestyles of people older than them.

        1. John Hughes
          Mushroom

          Re: @Sestun: "How ready are you to give up cheap books and cloud"

          You've missed the biggest theft by the oldies - convincing everyone that inflation is the worst thing every and that any level of unemployment is necessary to keep it low.

          Inflation is good - it takes money from the savings of old farts and gives it to working people. It also wipes out the national debt, makes student loans easy to pay and cleans your undies whiter than white.

          Let them eat cat food.

        2. Tom 13

          @Davcrav

          Convert those numbers to US dollars and you have a floor on the equivalent situation here in the US. OK, the names and exact coverages change a bit (medicare = NHI for retirees, medicaid =NIH for unemployed, employed = stuck on company's insurance vendor) but the facts on the ground are similar enough.

      2. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

        @Sestun

        Bullshit. Your generation hasn't paid for our generation at all. It is our taxes that are subsidizing you. It is your obsession with living beyond your means that is robbing from generations as yet unborn to finance your way of life.

        I'm perfectly okay with throwing the lot of you away. We'll find our own way through the maze, and frankly, we'll do a damned sight better than you. At least my generation accepts how utterly screwed we are. If we want to do better by our descendants than you did by us we are going to have to make some very large sacrifices; paying through the nose for you greedy geezer fucks on the one hand and working our asses off not to steal from the future on the other.

        You can cry me a river about how terrible it is in the miserable home we lock your asses up in, I won't care. Mine is the generation that has to pay for the sins of the past; but we'll do it honourably. A concept "me, me, me" boomers know nothing about.

        1. Rukario
          Mushroom

          Re: @Sestun

          @Trevor

          Absolutely.

          Generational warfare imminent ------------------->

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: @Sestun

          I think you'll find that most of the 'baby boomer' generation has already retired, and unless they did so in the last couple of years they'll have got a very nice pension thank you very much.

          As to those responsible for the current mega-theft, you should look more at social groups than age groups; there are plenty of 40-somethings on the list, and probably quite a few in their 30s, especially in the City.

          1. DavCrav Silver badge

            Re: @Sestun

            "I think you'll find that most of the 'baby boomer' generation has already retired, and unless they did so in the last couple of years they'll have got a very nice pension thank you very much.

            As to those responsible for the current mega-theft, you should look more at social groups than age groups; there are plenty of 40-somethings on the list, and probably quite a few in their 30s, especially in the City."

            Oh please. Everyone talks about banker bonuses but they are small fry compared to this. Banker bonuses of a couple of billion a year are nothing compared to the trillion in national debt, and hundreds of billions in house price inflation (in fact that might be trillions as well).

    6. Tom 13

      Re: "How ready are you to give up cheap books and cloud"

      You were doing so well until you got to the last two paragraphs. All that good work flushed down the toilet.

      Now the one bit the rest of your otherwise spot on rant missed is that neither gen x nor gen y, nor even the tail end of the baby boom generation can do much about it until a good chunk of the lazy f**** die off. Because until they do, they'll still control enough votes to keep the firehose of benefits turned on.

    7. LDS Silver badge

      Re: "How ready are you to give up cheap books and cloud"

      I'm perfectly ready to pay more for books and clouds as long as my income tax is lowered. At that point I will be free to choose from which company buy books and cloud services, and not from just a monopolistic one. And we know that monopolies, once settled, will raise prices, not lower them. Look at what Apple attempted for books - use its mass to increase book prices to reap more profit by its sales on its devices.

      Corporates will always try to *maximize profits* in one way ot the other, and we, the customers, will always be the weak point unless rules forbid behaviours like moving profits to tax havens.

    8. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "How ready are you to give up cheap books and cloud"

      Idiot, you obviously need a to think before commenting. Going to rely on the NHS, good luck with that shit encrusted bed in a dingy run down hospital run for the benefit of the politicians and the staff. Keep paying them higher and higher taxes too.

      Plain fact, companies ultimately don't pay tax, and get no benefit to match what they are nominally levied anyway. Tax incidence, taxes are paid by some combination of the workers, owners, and customers, plus some contribution from the wider community where a company operates. It has been said before, ad nauseam, the value one gets from a Google isn't the tax but the service it provides that you willingly use. Nobody makes you use it, so it has value to you directly because you do. So you want to make it more expensive for you to use that service, tax yourself then, and lose, what, 50% on the money go round via taxation; or pay it directly anyway with fewer losses.

      I suggest zero corporation tax, make people, real people who get the benefits, pay tax either through income or consumption taxes. Taxing companies is just the government using the fact that all you low-information voters somehow think that you aren't paying in someway, that "someone else is paying" which is a great line (and a great lie) that politicians love. Nothing like a bit of naked greed from the low information types is there ? Always so keen to accuse "the other" of greed, but really, look in the mirror.

      And if you must (sigh) put on a corporation tax, make that tax to the extent that it is paid a credit against personal tax on any dividends as some countries already do. That removes all most all of the reason to seek tax havens and tax dodges. Pay only a 5 % tax rate on the company profits, then your dividend is taxed in your own hands for the difference. Pay 33% or whatever, same as, say, your personal rate, and the dividend is tax free in your hands as the tax has been paid already. So why dodge, you pay it one way or another. And if the company provides benefits in kind, in most jurisdictions those are taxed as if they were paid in cash as pointed out above, even the personal use of a work vehicle is often taxed.

      So, short summary, low information people are fooled by politicians, again. Only it ain't the people that most want to think are the low information ones, it is the " make companies pay more so I won't have to" idiots.

      1. DavCrav Silver badge

        Re: "How ready are you to give up cheap books and cloud"

        "Plain fact, companies ultimately don't pay tax, and get no benefit to match what they are nominally levied anyway. Tax incidence, taxes are paid by some combination of the workers, owners, and customers, plus some contribution from the wider community where a company operates."

        They get no benefit? So transport and education aren't useful for companies?

    9. ecofeco Silver badge
      Holmes

      Re: "How ready are you to give up cheap books and cloud"

      The boomers didn't do squat. They had if forced down their throats the same as everyone else.

      The people that actually run things in this world and the policies put into place were from the WWII era generation.

      But thanks for showing both your age and ageism.

  4. Neoc

    Point of order.

    "$AUD1bn."

    Er, no. It's either AU$1bn or AUD1bn, but never "dollar AUstralian Dollar" (my emphasis on the U). It's like saying "degrees Celsius" or "degrees Kelvin". It's "Celsius", "Kelvin" or "degrees centigrade".

    1. Irony Deficient

      Sustained, mostly.

      Neoc, you are correct on $AUD1bn, Kelvin, and degrees Centigrade, but incorrect on Celsius. Because Celsius is not a unit, but rather a temperature scale, degrees Celsius is the correct term.

      1. Neoc
        Facepalm

        Re: Sustained, mostly.

        D'OH! You are correct. Have an upvote.

  5. Shagbag
    Boffin

    What pisses me off is the hypocrisy. The media bleats about company tax avoidance but it is completely in awe over the likes of usain bolt, lewis hamilton and the rolling stones. All big time uk tax avoiders. The current tax avoidance debate is a moral fallacy and is entirely a game by the mass media -big tax avoiders themselves - to try and sell their papers. It is a complete waste of time. It will go nowhere.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Sports people have a limited shelf life, they have to ensure they are comfortably off before they are 30-40 years old.

      As for the stones, well there's not much money in music these days.

      1. Mr Anonymous

        AC @ 07:07

        "Sports people have a limited shelf life, they have to ensure they are comfortably off before they are 30-40 years old."

        Then get another job if you're too old, just like everyone else.

        "As for the stones, well there's not much money in music these days."

        Then get another job like everyone else.

    2. ARGO

      A better example would be the finger-pointers-in-chief over at the Guardian. Not only do they not pay corporation tax on their own 300 million pound revenue*, but they rejigged their corporate structure specifically to avoid paying tax on their sale of Auto Trader.

      (Yes, I know revenue is not the same as profit. But revenue is what the Guardian routinely cite in their headlines accusing others of avoiding tax.)

    3. John Hughes
      WTF?

      Usain Bolt should pay UK taxes? Why?

      1. Tom 38 Silver badge
        Headmaster

        Usain Bolt should pay UK taxes? Why?

        For the same reason as Starbucks and Google should pay tax in the UK, they profit from economic activity they undertake in this country.

        He earns money over here, advertising things, wearing fake beards and running very fast. He gets taxed on what he earns over here, advertising things, fake beards and running fast. He's OK with that.

        The previous government also wanted to tax him on a percentage of his worldwide earnings, pro-rata with the number of days he spends in the UK. He wasn't OK with that, and that's why he didn't used to race in the UK. I think this was changed for the Olympics, which is why he ran here the other day.

  6. Velv Silver badge

    Everybody thinks someone else should pay more tax. How much more tax are YOU prepared to pay?

    There are inequalities in the world system, and the world needs to work to reduce the avoidance by some. But don't for one instant think that is going to reduce your bill - we are all going to need to pay more in the long run.

    Successive governments have "reduced" headline personal income tax over the last forty years while reaping the tax through stealth. And if the tax doesn't go up, paying your own health care and care home will certainly hit the pocket hard.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I'm prepared to pay the tax I'm expected to pay, without cooking up artificial systems to avoid big chunks of it.

      To wit: I'm a higher rate tax payer, I pay income tax through PAYE, I avoid tax by government advertised and sanctioned schemes: Cycle to work, Premium Bonds, ISAs and probably a couple of others.

      The key here is that you know these scheme names, they are familiar to anyone who knows anything about their own personal taxation. The schemes that are cooked up for major multinationals (and quite a few individual contractors) are often bespoke, they are certainly exclusive and require a small army of tax consultants to operate, while staying on the edge of legality. This should be the warning that it's not ok.

  7. wowfood

    Personally

    Yes, I do want them to start paying the tax they owe, right now the market is unfair on startups who are forced to pay this tax, when comapred to corperations who can dance around it and laugh. But at the same time think about other areas.

    Year on year taxes for us go up, and public spending is cut because the government can't afford it. If these corperatiosn finally start paying what they owe then we might finally get an actual tax break (not likely but one can dream)

    HOWEVER

    I do hope that if / when they do plug these tax holes, at the same time they lower the crippling level of corperation tax, why? Well for starters as it is now, it'll scare off a few larger businesses. Cut off a couple percent and we'll still be making far more than we were before when we were gettong 0%, but it'll be a big boost to the small business, while lowering the odds the big business will up and leave.

  8. Chris Miller

    Economics 101

    MegaCorps already generate large amounts of tax revenue for governments. Their products generate Sales Tax/VAT. their employees pay income tax, and so on. But, it is always objected, those taxes aren't borne by MegaCorp, they're borne by the little people (us), which is wrong.

    Sadly, the bad news is that there is no magic money tree. If we require MegaCorp to pay more tax, they can only do one of three things:

    1) Raise prices - and though some of their direct customers may be other businesses, ultimately the extra costs falls on people (or governments, who pass the cost on to us in higher taxes).

    2) Reduce costs - again, their suppliers may well be other businesses, but ultimately a large part of this reduction must fall on the employees of MegaCorp or its suppliers (or their suppliers) - i.e. us.

    3) Reduce profits - which directly reduces dividends and/or causes the price of shares to fall, which in turn affects the pensions and savings of all of us.

    I suppose there's an option 4, which is to go bust, but that probably isn't what we want either (particularly those of us who work for MegaCorp).

    There's a reasonable discussion to be had on the overall proportion of money that government should extract into the public purse, But, whatever your local politicians may tell you, taxing businesses is not a free source of revenue that has no downside for the rest of us.

    It may be that governments can get together and eliminate the tax tourism aspects that enable companies to move their profits to wherever they will pay least tax on them. Doing so will require an unprecedented level of international cooperation, and (for us in Europe) a radical change to the way in which the EU operates - so I wouldn't count on it. But to the extent that it results in MegaCorp paying more tax, the above argument still applies at a global level.

    1. LDS Silver badge

      Re: Economics 101

      1) Raise prices: that's the fear megacorps use to protect their interests. Prices are set taking many factors into account, productions costs, taxes, and how much buyers are willingly to pay. Many prices - see Apple - are already very high because buyers are ready to pay a premium for the brand. Due to the very high profits, there's no need to raise prices, especially if the raise could impact profits also because of less customers.

      2) Reduce costs: megacorps do it anyway to increase profits. They offshore, they reduce employees, and so on. But a tax decrease for their employees will mean less expenses for the corporation, or a pay rise for employees without more expenses by the megacorps - which in turn may mean more sales.

      3) Reduce profits: sure, as long as profits are based on tax-avoidance schemes. It can also be an anti-competitive behaviour, because as long as profits are based on being able to shift money to foreign countries, it impacts business that can't. And it's not realy a "profit reduction" - it's the real profit they would pay the taxes everybody else who is not able to shift money around pays.

      1. Chris Miller

        Re: Economics 101

        Correct. But to the extent that MegaCorp is required to pay more taxes, it will have to do more of (some or all of) these things - this is not a political statement, if follows from the associativity of arithmetic (or double entry bookkeeping as beancounters like to think of it). Repeat after me: There is no magic money tree.

    2. Pete 2 Silver badge

      @Chris - The first sane post

      Having read through this whole collection of comments, I weep for the future.

      It does seem to me that there is so much ignorance, so much naivety, so much idealism and so much ignorant, naive idealism that the only solution would be to take the entire population of the country and force a copy of The Economist down their throats (other orifices are available) every week and hammer them home with a copy of the weekend FT.

      For a few, some of the economic wisdom they publish might rub off. For the remainder: at least it would get some fibre into their diet.

    3. ecofeco Silver badge
      FAIL

      Re: Economics 101

      That's not economics, that's extortion and we, the public, are the ones being extorted.

      There is NO god given right to maximize profits, but there is historical fact that screwing the populace leads to "bad things". For those doing the screwing.

      Time after time after time.

  9. Ace Rimmer
    Stop

    Stop!

    Pension investments are a long term strategy. Any initial hit from paying the CORRECT amount of tax will only hit share price and dividend in the first year or so before the company balances out based on the new reality and the profits begin to creep back up along with the share price and dividend. The idea that a short bit of pain to bring companies that can most certainly afford it back into line with what everyone else pays is somehow going to affect pension funds over the long term is nothing more than scaremongering hogwash.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Little point....

    ....shares and taxes now, pay for the current pensioners, not for when you retire. That will be the next generation responsibilty.

  11. LDS Silver badge

    Sorry, I prefer *my* taxes get lower, and manage my money myself.

    Let's face it - in many Western countries PMI, employees and self-employed professional pay a lot of taxes because large corporates know how to dodge them. In turn these people put their savings on well known shares hoping to earn more, or at least not to lose. But if the big corporates can't avoid taxes, it means taxes can be decreased to those who now sustain the big burden of them - taxes which are used to deliver all those "welfare" services that let big companies pay their employee less because they don't have to pay for health, education, and so on. But that's a way to patronize - and take away power from the "common people" who are strangled between taxes and large corporations will and whims.

    Corportation must pay taxes like everybody else, thereby people who can't dodge taxes will pay less, and will have more money they can decide what to do with, not someone else. There are very different ways someone can save money for his or her "gray" years, and just letting big corporate manage them for you it's not the best idea.

  12. Frederic Bloggs

    Dividends?

    The article mentions various large US tech companies paying dividends. Unfortunately, very few of them actually do this and, when they are forced to (because they won't do it voluntarily), they use all sorts of shenanigans to pay as little as possible, whilst trying to protect their huge (usually offshore) cash piles.

    1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: Dividends?

      Apple and Microsoft because they pay reasonable dividends…

      Apple only just started paying dividends this year. Hoping that share prices will continue to rise until your retirement age has not been justified by returns the last ten years and current bond yields seem to suggest that it isn't going to happen again soon. We're in a sustained period of low returns.

      The article should concentrate on what companies do with the cash piles they generate through tax avoidance. The evidence is that they make poor investments with it: Microsoft buys Skype, aQuantive and produces lots of devices no one wants; Apple buys its own shares using another tax avoidance scheme.

    2. Tom 13

      Re: Dividends?

      There are two ways to return profits to shareholders:

      1) Pay dividends.

      2) Retain earnings in the company and expand sales to drive up the share price.

      In the US, if you do #1 the corporation pays income tax, then the investor pays additional income tax. If the opt for #2 there is no corporate tax and the shareholder can opt to time his sale of stock to minimize its tax impact on him.

      So most US based corps (therefore especially tech corps) tend to opt for #2 as the best ROI for their shareholders. There's just no way around these economic facts. If you want to see offshoring stopped cold it's simple: Kill the corporate tax on profits paid as dividends. At that point, shareholders will rally to force companies to pay dividends because its lower risk to them.

  13. AdamFowler_IT

    If companies paid more taxes to the government, in theory everyone would enjoy a better quality of life rather than the rich with shares in the company - or a little dividend into your super, which will sit there for hopefully a very long time and be re-invested back into the companies anyway.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Most of us outsource management of our retirement savings to professionals, who are generally fond of the likes of Apple and Microsoft because they pay reasonable dividends"

    Apple only started paying divvies in the last year or so, pension funds and investors hate companies like Apple, with their self important super expensive individual shares and no dividend. MS, IBM, HP, etc they may love, but Apple isn't a good example. Warren Buffet refuses to invest in Apple because of the dividend issue (he may have changed his tack since they started paying one). The lack of dividend means that the only investment possible is on the increase in share value, which some proportion of your pension fund will be used for, a large amount of it will be invested long term and dividends are important here.

    Also, if these companies pay more tax, my pension goes further because the tax that is levied on me will either be less or go further, thus reducing my expenditure. A few quid in my pocket has far less spending power than the same few quid in the pocket of government.

  15. Wiibloke

    Where will it all go

    This is a hard one to comment on, especially after having already read the other comments. I understand the different points of view and why people take those points of view but the question we need to understand is "If Apple et al do pay more taxes what will our respective governments do with that money?".

    I understand that taking from the rich and giving to the poor is a fair balance; but this is not necessarily the case. Who will benefit if we take from the rich and give to the government. If governments consume this cash and the only real change to the public is the price hike of services provided by the tax dodgers then then the benefits are lost to all.

    1. LDS Silver badge

      Re: Where will it all go

      It's up to us to control what the government does with our taxes. If we are so stupid to keep on voting people wasting money on every whims of theirs it's just our fault. As letting big corporates avoiding taxes, move money to off-shore tax heavens, and off-shore jobs as well. They are just funneling a lot of money outside the countries they make money in, and don't return them as jobs either, but some marketing/sales and little more.

  16. Mr Michael Strelitz

    Unfair Advantage

    By paying low taxes the effective cost of capital of these companies is lower than their competitors. Consequently they have an unfair advantage when it comes to both pricing and investments and can take predatory actions that lead to lower competition in the market and ultimately higher prices.

  17. codejunky Silver badge

    Hah

    Of course the people want these greedy corporations to pay tax. And they want the pensions paid for. And they want the road network for their bicycles (and the red lights for them to ride through). And their healthcare. And education. And many bureaucratic busybodies to say the last lot of bureaucratic busybodies did it wrong and the current system doesnt work.

    Voters are like children. You can bribe them with sweets but they will hate you when you stop providing the sweets, because they cant understand you cant afford it any more. We either have scare tactics or bribes come election time.

  18. Miek
    Linux

    "Do you really want tech companies to pay more tax?" -- Absolutely, without question, along with all other companies.

  19. Miek
    Linux

    One tax rate to rule them all and in the Treasury bind them

    1. Rukario
      Thumb Up

      In the Audit Office where tax schemes die.

  20. Aitor 1

    Of course

    If they pay taxes, I will pay less, and not only that, but less jobs would be outsourced, as one of the reasons behind that is tax evasion/fraud: most companies DON'T pay for "importing" services... and leave the benefits offshore.

    If they had to pay taxes anyway, no need to create a Luxemburg company there, and also they would have to pay a 30% tax on services outside the union... so few jobs would go outside the union.

    1. Aldous

      Re: Of course

      You are joking right? even if they have to pay tax it still works out cheaper due to labor cost differences between nations.

      In the UK you have to provide an employee a wage(and there is a minimum), an NI contribution and a pension contribution.

      For your employee's in outer mongolia you have to provide squat. so you pay an extra 30% on their 1GBP/hour salary, big whoop at 1.30GBP an hour they are still cheaper than EU based worker by a country mile

      Raising taxes or clamping down on loopholes would have the opposite effect of what you claim as companies would just move to tax convenient locations like Luxembourg....

      1. Rukario
        Headmaster

        Re: Of course

        > For your employee's in outer mongolia you have to provide squat

        Not really.

  21. Tim 54

    Crumbs from the table.

    The reality of pension funds is that most of them are held for the richest in society (you only have to look at the payoffs in pension terms of the likes of Fred the Shred). Sure, some of the shares are owned by pension funds, although it's far less than it used to be as the mega-rich don't need them (because they use their own offshore vehicles). But it doesn't alter the fundamentals which are that if company A is avoiding tax, and company B isn't then company A has an unfair advantage, which reduces competition, creates oligopolies and is worse off for all of us in the long run.

    This is just another low taxation tirade which ignores the fact that we have decided (through our votes) what we are prepared to pay for, and how we wish to pay for it (though a balance of taxes). You want something different? Go and get political parties to support your views, or start your own. Don't defend the indefensible.

    1. Tom 13

      Re: what we are prepared to pay for

      If you were REALLY prepared to pay for it, you'd either:

      1) Set a flat amount that every person in the country has to pay and bugger off about income inequality or,

      2) Set a flat rate at which every person who works pays from their income and then bugger off about income inequality and fairness.

      Either way everyone would be paying their fair share because they are all sharing it equally. Corporations would then compete internally on natural advantages and disadvantages, not accounting trickery. Anything else is naked greed, aka love of money, aka the root of all evil no matter how much you try to gussy it up as fairness or good for the children.

      1. MonkeyCee Silver badge

        Re: what we are prepared to pay for

        Oh, I always thought the way to ensure you "always paid" was 99% death taxes. Maybe 90% :)

        Can't take it with you, now it goes back into the general coffers.

  22. AndyC42

    Do you really want tech companies to pay more tax?

    I'm pretty sure governments love to promote the "companies aren't paying their fair share of tax campaigns". Everyone gets right behind them a rallies away, but who actually pays these taxes? The money surely comes from the people who buy the products (you and I). If the tax bill goes up so does the price you pay for the products you buy. People are quite happy to buy the lowest price product (amazon anyone?) but complain when said company doesn't pay as much tax as you believe they should or they outsource the labour (The same for the outsourcing argument!). Put your money where your mouth is and buy from the small independent retailers/more ethical company instead.

    Besides who wants the government wasting even more money? Think you're going to see any of it? I doubt it.

    Just my 2 pence.

    1. Tom 13

      Re: ...complain when said company doesn't pay as much tax...

      or when they put the local bricks and mortar store that they use to window shop in goes out of business.

  23. Chad H.

    I probably have a stake in a tech company somewhere...

    I definately have a stake in the country I live inl

    1. Rukario

      @Chad H. You have a stake...

      and need to drive it into the hearts of these vampires.

  24. WibbleMe

    Tax is the problem even if they pay tax digital transactions can be transferred to another country i.e. Purchase on Amazon and the transaction can end up in Germany.

    As a fool proof way, change all Cards (Debit/Credit etc) work and have the BACS (Banking Automated Clearance System) diver all transactions to the Tax office -> Tax is deducted say 20%VAT and the remainder is deposited in the sellers account.

    Of course this to work VAT would rise above 20% but corporation tax would be abolished

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    RE: Companies like Amazon

    If companies like Amazon may not be able to exist without the tax avoidance then companies like Amazon don't deserve to exist.

    Either Amazon is dominating ecommerce by it's hyper-efficiency and extremely thin margins, or its wiping out UK businesses by exploiting tax avoidance. If Amazon cannot exist without such tax management then obviously its the latter.

  26. Jim 59

    Do you really want tech companies to pay more tax?

    Yes.

    It is fair for everyone to make a contribution to society. If one company is exempt, it is just a middle-finger to everyone else, who must work harder just because of the company's greed. It is also a big FU to competing companies, especially SME's trying to access the market.

    Maybe if Amazon had been paying reasonable tax all these years, there would be 2 or 3 "Amazon's" to choose from, and my pension managers could buy shares in those companies too ?

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    what is this 'pension fund' of which you speak?

    1. Rukario

      It's that mysterious deduction that appears on your wage slip that will be paid to you (if the pension fund doesn't go bankrupt or get hyperinflated to nothing) by the time you retire (if your decreasing life expectancy is still greater than the increasing retirement age).

  28. Trollslayer Silver badge

    Yes

    All companies should pay reasonable amounts of tax.

    Countries such as the Irish Republic should be penalised for setting up tax evasion schemes.

    1. Rukario

      Re: Yes

      > Countries such as the Irish Republic should be penalised for setting up tax evasion schemes.

      Perhaps the Cooks, Pages, and Bezos (Bezoses?) of the world need to be clearer on what they mean by "improving ROI".

  29. Stretch

    retirement

    What's this "retirement" thing? I am under 40 so its a fairy-tale that used to happen to other people.

    1. ecofeco Silver badge
      Unhappy

      Re: retirement

      I'm over 50 and it's just a fairy tale to me as well.

  30. BornToWin

    Just deduct it...

    ...from Tim Cook's $700 Million annual salary.

  31. Tim Brummer

    YES, these bastards support amnesty for illegal aliens which will cost taxpayers $6 trillion!! They should be paying that entire tab.

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    When these companies don't pay taxes, to preserve tax revenue, the money must be made up by increasing the tax rate on middle class taxpayers. Corporate profits are distributed to stockholders as dividends (except Apple where upper management likes to bathe in cash). Whether you like it or not, upper income people hold the majority of stock. By allowing corporations to pay lower tax rates, you are, in effect, giving a tax break to the wealthy at the expense of the poor and middle class!

  33. David Kelly 2

    Corporations Pay Taxes, But are not Taxed

    All taxes are pass-through items. Cost of business. Passed on to consumers. Passed on to stock holders.

    The problem with government debt is not that someone or something is not paying enough tax, but that government is spending too much.

    If government received the tax revenues of today, 10 years ago, government would be rolling in excess. But the didn't, and kept raising expenditures anyway. Proof that government can not be trusted with tax revenues equal to current expenditures.

  34. arrbee

    Its not so much that corporates avoid paying tax, its that they also expect to be treated as individual tax payers when it suits them. Personally I'd scrap corporation tax, scrap all allowances, write-offs etc (not needed if there is no tax), scrap the legal fictions that allow corporates to be treated as if they were people, reduce the limited liability protections and eliminate the latest horror that is limited liability partnerships. Of course this would also require much stronger regulatory bodies that actually enforced the relevant laws and/or industry-specific rules - making professional auditors responsible for their audits, that kind of thing.

  35. JLV Silver badge

    anything would be better than what we have...

    We have the worst of both worlds currently and the status quo blows.

    We could not tax companies at all and instead collect more money from individuals' incomes. That might require quite a lot of tax fiddling to accommodate tax brackets and not give some people a free ride. And it might require adjustment as well when foreign shareholders withdraw their gains. Complicated? Yes. Patently unfair? No, as long as individuals were taxed on the increased cash flows coming out of companies.

    We could instead tax companies at a fixed rate (preferably low in my opinion), based on revenue location, and actually collect the money. If say, Ireland, wanted to keep corporate taxes low (good thing, imho), it could, but that would be limited to profits earned in Ireland.

    That would improve most of our governments' financials. Hopefully (but not holding my breath) those governments would then use the money to cut their deficits, not create white elephants or bribe the voters with useless spending schemes.

    However, we do neither of these. Instead, we end up not collecting money, but we do have those taxes on the books, along with complicated, but effective, loopholes. Companies pay little taxes, but we are not all at option a). Instead of company profits being transparently released to shareholders, it is spent employing hordes of pricey tax accountants and playing complex shell games. Those accountants don't create value as such, they are merely the cost of doing business because our tax red tape is too complicated. Government lawmakers are coddled by lobbyists advocating this or that tax cut - all worthy causes, you know - and constantly tweak laws needlessly.

    To extend the argument beyond companies, it is the same for rich people. They spend lots of money tweaking their holdings to minimize tax. How about the government simplifies its tax rules and make it so an average intelligence individual can fill out their own taxes? Then bring down the top tax brackets so that rich individuals pay roughly as much as now, but without being able to resort to loopholes or needing to invest in weird questionable government-approved pet projects. Not to mention that capital gains money is somehow thought to deserve much lower tax brackets than employment income - easier to treat them all more equally and lower them overall.

    Yes, the tax accountants and lobbyists do well out the current system and you can bet they'll fight every inch to keep things as complicated and loophole-riddled as possible.

    The one thing we emphatically should not do is to allow high-tax jurisdictions to level the playing fields upwards by having every country bring up its taxes. Long term, the less tax is needed to fund deserving services, the better so inefficient countries need to solve their problems, not export them.

    My exposure to the downside risks this article warns about? Probably some, but hardly a reason to keep such a dumb system the way it is.

  36. sd123

    Absolutely yes!

    Especially Google since they have a founding belief of "don't be evil".

    Tax minimisation may not be the stuff of Mordor but it certainly isn't doing the right thing.

  37. A J Stiles

    Private pension funds held to ransom

    So, a few private pensions might end up being worth a little bit less if companies are made to uphold their end of the social contract (taxes are the subscription fees we pay to live in a civilised society) whereby we allow companies to exist in the first place. As it said in the advertisements when people signed up to their private pension schemes, investments can go down as well as up and you may get back less than you put in. Deal with it.

    On the other hand, with more tax money coming in, the state pension pot will be larger.

  38. Jo 5

    Author of article has misspelt 'grey' as 'gray'.

    Sorry to be a language Nazi but i come here to get way from the misuse of our mother tongue by our colonial descendants. Site also ends in .co.UK.

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