back to article 'Ridiculous, rubbish, outrageous, complete bollocks': Just some reviews for Amazon's corporate contribution to Blighty's coffers

Amazon's latest PR efforts to paint itself as a responsible corporate citizen in the UK have been branded "complete bollocks" by Dame Margaret Hodge MP, a long-term critic of the online giant's tax practices. Hodge – chair of an all-party Parliamentary group for responsible tax – has form when it comes to Jeff Bezos' empire. …

  1. Paul 195
    Flame

    Companies like Amazon are treating us all like fools when they talk about how they pay all the tax they should and it's all fair and above boards. Murky corporate financial structures that enable them to siphon money from one jurisdiction to another are anything but fair. They are also playing a large part in the hollowing out of the domestic retail sector. Large retailers with bricks and mortar on the high street aren't able to avoid their tax nearly as easily, so their employees (who also pay PAYE etc) end up losing their jobs because they aren't competing on an even playing field. And the Exchequer loses the money it would have collected from those businesses that are now no longer viable.

    1. cynic56
      Facepalm

      What sort of reckon b*stard idiot downvoted you?

      1. DJV Silver badge

        "What sort of reckon b*stard idiot downvoted you?"

        Amazon shareholders?

  2. Gerard Krupa

    Look a bit closer to home

    It's would be a lot more convincing if the leader of the House of Commons wasn't making millions from a hedge fund based in the Cayman Islands. Nothing will change while members of the serving government have a vested personal interest in keeping tax loopholes open.

    1. Tom 7 Silver badge

      Re: Look a bit closer to home

      I believe Hodge herself uses the very same mechanisms she complains about.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

      2. DJV Silver badge

        "I believe Hodge herself uses the very same mechanisms she complains about."

        Yep, she's a politician. They are constantly under the impression that the rules never apply to themselves.

    2. macjules Silver badge

      Re: Look a bit closer to home

      Actually I believe his Capital Management (SCM) is based in Ireland, not in the Caymans, but I understand the sentiment.

  3. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

    Not really Amazon's fault

    They, like everyone, just take advantage of the tax rules created by the government(s). If those rules allow them to pay "unfairly" little tax, the solution lies squarely with those governments: change the rules. Preferably by making them simpler so that we can all understand what we have to pay.

    Creating rules that allow this behaviour, and then whinging that it "isn't fair" that Amazon don't pay more than the laws require, is just an attempt to hide the real source of the problem.

    1. elaar

      Re: Not really Amazon's fault

      I don't agree with that response. We shouldn't have to live in a society where it's okay for companies to act as immoral as they wish, and use their wealth and international status to follow tax loopholes unless there are airtight tax rules to stop them. It may be "legal", but they're not faultless.

      Taxing when it comes to international trade isn't as simple as you suggest, and a company the size of Amazon can employ a great more specialist accountants and tax experts than a single government can.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Not really Amazon's fault

        "I don't agree with that response. We shouldn't have to live in a society where it's okay for companies to act as immoral as they wish, and use their wealth and international status to follow tax loopholes unless there are airtight tax rules to stop them. It may be "legal", but they're not faultless."

        Companies are also required to comply with laws to act in their shareholders best interests.

        Should companies meet the letter (but maybe not the spirit) of tax laws and act in their shareholders interests or pay their "moral obligation" while acting outside their shareholders best financial interests?

        If governments provide lax tax requirements but "clear" company guidance, should they address their failings rather than just complain?

        1. Dan 55 Silver badge

          Re: Not really Amazon's fault

          Companies are also required to comply with laws to act in their shareholders best interests.

          It was never a legal requirement. Even US megacorps have stopped flogging that dead horse now, they agreed social responsibilites could be a corporate goal too. Who knew?

          1. LDS Silver badge

            Re: Not really Amazon's fault

            Exactly. The "maximize shareholder value" mantra is not in any law - it was just a Milton Friedman (IIRC) assertion because then it was thought that executives were spending too much money in their own interest only, and not the company one.

            So he and his followers advocated a change in company policies to aim only at shareholder value

            It turned out that with stock options and share-value based bonuses nothing really changed - still executive had powerful incentives to work in their interests only.

            But again, no law requires executives to do that. What boards ask and expect is another thing.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Not really Amazon's fault

              But if you're screwing the shareholders then they will sue you. Like FedEx just recently. OK there may not be specific laws against it, but legal stuff will happen if you stiff the shareholders out of their "rightful" pile of money.

              1. Tom 7 Silver badge

                Re: Not really Amazon's fault

                CEOs pay has been screwing the shareholders for a while now. Compared with 1977 if CEOs remuneration matched the increase in company values then they would be on about 20% of what they are currently receiving in the UK.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Not really Amazon's fault

            With respect to UK companies, the Companies Act 2006 maintains shareholder primacy as a key principle of UK company law. i.e. that shareholders are the prime stakeholder in company governance. GAAP and IFRS further enshrine this principle. I'm not aware of specific US laws but that's a lack of knowledge on my part rather than a definite position and the accountancy standards mean that this is a default position anyway.

            While corporate social responsibilities can be seen as an obligation required by society and are discretionary, the argument for paying more tax than is legally required by law is less clear - paying tax is not discretionary and the relevant governments have clear rules which the companies are following.

            Given that the majority of Amazons tax on UK revenue is paid in Luxembourg (or at least part thereof considering some of it is now viewed as illegal state aid), this is a cost of being part of the EU, with similar benefits for Ireland from Apple etc.

            In addition, choosing the most successful companies who comply with tax laws as proof or tax avoidance when many other companies use the same laws to return revenue to the UK and pay UK tax on it ignores the larger impact of current multinational tax regimes and instead tries to frame everything as UK only - hence the focus on US companies.

            I'm aware of proposals to remove shareholder primacy, but as far as I am aware, nothing has become law.

            1. LDS Silver badge

              Re: Not really Amazon's fault

              Please read:

              http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2006/46/section/172

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Not really Amazon's fault

                OK - I wasn't aware that these changes had been formalised.

                It still leaves the argument for whether Amazon can be judged on their UK tax payments while complying with EU law and registering sales outside the UK in another member state, complying fully with that member states laws.

                If the UK government wish to take Amazon to task over this arrangement, they need to alter the law in either the EU or the UK to address the issue.

                Having "show courts" where politicians verbally reprimand the suspect on and annual basis does very little to address any of the issues aside from getting some politicians media coverage.

                1. LDS Silver badge

                  Re: Not really Amazon's fault

                  The issue, from the article, could be this:

                  "I have no confidence," she said, "that everybody is treated equally."

                  "What I believe happens in that coming to those deals, there is unequal treatment between businesses. So some will probably not find any flexibility and interpretation of the rules. Whereas Amazon probably will."

                  Just like Apple in Ireland was able to pay a tax rate extremely lower than the standard 12.5%. Amazon pays very little on profits it declares in UK too. And I would be not surprised if that happens to Amazon in Luxembourg too, as Juncker was known to make such deals too.

                  It's a double damage to other businesses - not only the pay more taxes, but their biggest competitor gains a competitive advantage.

                  Not surprisingly, EU is trying to address this too - but some small states (i.e. Ireland and Netherlands) that see all the advantages and none of the disadvantages - while in the larger ones that's reversed - are trying to keep the status quo.

            2. Twanky Bronze badge

              Re: Not really Amazon's fault

              "Given that the majority of Amazons tax on UK revenue is paid in Luxembourg"

              What? Tax on *revenue*?

              Indirect taxes like VAT (sales tax) are paid by the people who buy their shiny stuff and are collected by the retailer. What is this 'tax on revenue' of which you speak? Is there really such a thing - and if so, why is it paid in Luxy?

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Not really Amazon's fault

                OK, poor phrasing. From the Times:

                "Amazon does not publish details of most of its UK profits or tax payments because retail sales, which totalled £6.7 billion in 2017, go through a Luxembourg company, Amazon EU, which reports only aggregated Europe-wide figures."

                As the profits are made in Luxembourg, the taxes are owed there as part of the single market.

                1. Twanky Bronze badge

                  Re: Not really Amazon's fault

                  Understood. So they _do_ pay tax on profit - but at the cheapest place they can legally get away with it (Luxembourg). Sounds to me like the UK needs to change the regulations if it wants the tax paid in the UK.

          3. BebopWeBop Silver badge

            Re: Not really Amazon's fault

            HP (as was ) used to pride themselves on it. Bygone days

        2. Wicked Witch

          Re: Not really Amazon's fault

          Shareholder's best interests is not the same thing as maximising share price, though there are many friedmanites who will claim it is. A clear counterexample is a bank owned by pension funds: if it trashes the economy at large to boost its share price for a couple of quarters, the shareholders' best interests have not been served.

          A very simple change would be to require companies to maximise the total tax on their profits, which is supposed to amount to the same thing as maximising their profits. A better solution would be requiring them to act in the country's interest above all else, though that's harder to nail down and so enforce.

    2. ratfox Silver badge
      Pirate

      Re: Not really Amazon's fault

      This. It's a bit weird to set the rules, then complain when people obey them too efficiently. Especially when many of these rules were specifically created to attract businesses in the first place.

      The way I see it, a lot of rules in EU were pushed by the UK because they hoped they'd become the low-tax fiscal paradise for global companies operating in EU. They just never saw Ireland coming. And that may well explain the current clusterfuck^W political events.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Not really Amazon's fault

        "The way I see it, a lot of rules in EU were pushed by the UK because they hoped they'd become the low-tax fiscal paradise for global companies operating in EU. They just never saw Ireland coming. And that may well explain the current clusterfuck^W political events."

        Ummm...Luxembourg, Malta and Cyprus? They were all tax havens before Ireland arrived on the scene.

        Before Ireland and the Netherlands commercialised international tax avoidance within the EU, I suspect it was viewed as a useful side business for some of the smaller states to ensure they were competitive with larger countries within the union.

        Given Mr Junkers history, the reason these tax havens remained untouched is probably less likely to be the UK's influence and more likely the influence of those in power.

    3. LDS Silver badge

      "like everyone, just take advantage of the tax rules created by the government(s)."

      Sorry, it's not "like everyone" - you need large and skilled tax expert firms to achieve such advantages, which often require extreme knowledge of different tax codes in many countries.

      Plus the capability to open (shell) companies around the world, and easily move money across them.

      All of that has not-so-low costs itself, and only big savings can justify that.

      While some loopholes may be created explicitly under lobby pressure, others are unintentional (especially the cross-country ones), and not easy at all to exploit.

      Some loopholes are easy to plug, other may have consequences on business that rely on legitimate rules that became part of the loophole.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "like everyone, just take advantage of the tax rules created by the government(s)."

        Sorry, it's not "like everyone" - you need large and skilled tax expert firms to achieve such advantages,

        What, you don't have a pension? an ISA? take the income allowance offered before tax? Those are all legal ways to avoid paying tax on what you earn. Amazon etc. just take advantage of the ones open to businesses. If governments don't want them to do so they should change the laws to remove them.

        1. LDS Silver badge

          "What, you don't have a pension?"

          There's a big difference between legal, plain and simple tax reductions, and the way skilled consultants can dig into tax codes to find cunning ways not pay taxes using complex schemes that could require shifting money across many shell companies and different countries - usually including tax havens and artificially set intra-company prices. Often using laws in ways that were not intended at all - and often based on the assumption that your legal firepower is big enough to stall any investigation for years.

          Sure, most of this is somewhat legal, or close to it - but again, it's not something "everybody" can do.

    4. Mike 137 Silver badge

      Re: Not really Amazon's fault

      Given the approximately 90,000 pages of UK tax "guidance", simplification is indeed an excellent idea. However I don't hold out much hope for improvement.

  4. msknight

    A few of us at work are already using Amazon to the minimum needed

    There's legal/illegal, and moral/immoral.

    A few of us at work are not impressed with Amazon and only use them as a last ditch point when we can't get things anywhere else.

    Some of that failure is down to other retailers being behind the game and having problems with their internet frontages.

    I have talked with some people who have complained bitterly about Amazon's tax avoidance and I've postulated, "So you're not using them any more then." "Oh yes, I use them a lot." .... Doh.

    1. Chris G Silver badge

      Re: A few of us at work are already using Amazon to the minimum needed

      I have found Amazon to be expensive compared to the same products direct from the company's web site or even eBay.

      The most irritating thing about Amazon however, is that when I make a search for something, Amazon. De always comes up high in the search but never has the item when you go there.

      Instead I am offered a dozen other products that bear no relationship with my original search.

      Do they pay for high search listings?

      1. werdsmith Silver badge

        Re: A few of us at work are already using Amazon to the minimum needed

        Yes, everyone who uses Amazon to get a “deal” with convenient fast delivery and customer service are themselves complicit in the tax avoidance. There’s no level playing field because Amazon is able to pass on that tax avoidance as competitiveness, which translates to a “deal” for the end customer. Domestic businesses can’t offer the same because of the slope on the playing field.

  5. LDS Silver badge

    Tax paid by employees are employees' money, not employer's one.

    It's always funny how some PRs always try to throw dust in the eyes with misleading arguments. Income taxes are paid by employees with their money.

    The fact a company may be required to pay taxes on behalf of employees - usually a design to reduce evasion - doesn't mean that those are company money - they are still full part of the employee salary he or she earned. For example, if income tax rates become lower, an employee will automatically bring home more net money because it will he or she who will pay lower taxes, not the company - it has no right to cash the difference. Vice versa, if the tax rates becomes higher, the company will give the employee less net money, they won't be paid with company money.

    And being an employee salary, they are included in the company costs that are deducted from the employer gross revenues.

    If any company is willingly to pay my taxes, while paying me the full gross salary, I will work for them happily (albeit I guess it won't be possible, because the revenue service will probably object that if someone pays my taxes, it's actually giving me more money I should pay taxes on...)

    The same is true for VAT. It's fully paid by the end customer only. If they don't buy at Amazon, they will still pay VAT if they buy somewhere else. From a pure VAT perspective, the lower Amazon prices also mean a lower VAT income.

    Sure, Amazon employs people, but it does that because it needs them, not out of good will only, and each employee allows Amazon to earn n time the salary paid - or Amazon would have fired them already.

    So it's not a charity that should be exempt from taxes just because it gives people a job - all businesses do that out of sheer need.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Tax paid by employees are employees' money, not employer's one.

      I completely agree with your comments regarding Amazon counting VAT/PAYE as their contribution to UK society - its not.

      However, I think HMRC have to make a strong case for what a company should be expected to pay to administer PAYE/VAT on HMRC's behalf. All responsibility/compliance/etc falls on the company and provides a significant administrative burden for companies (think payroll/HR/finance) while HMRC audit and fine with minimal administrative effort on their part.

      HMRC's job has significantly changed with much of the administrative work passed to the "customer"...

      1. LDS Silver badge

        Re: Tax paid by employees are employees' money, not employer's one.

        The fun thing is that if companies found it really disadvantageous, they would have fought it to death. Instead it allows companies to keep the money for a while before having to send them to the revenue service, and most companies take advantage of that. And there's a risk they may not be paid when a companies goes into bad waters.

        But I agree income taxes should be paid personally, so each citizen would know how much the government asks. It's far different when you first see the money, and then they're gone.

        VAT is designed in such a way it needs to be paid to the atate by those who sell.

        1. Tom 7 Silver badge

          Re: Tax paid by employees are employees' money, not employer's one.

          Cant you read your payslip?

          1. LDS Silver badge

            Re: Tax paid by employees are employees' money, not employer's one.

            Sure, I can - even if it can be sometimes quite complex to read and fully understand, at least here where there's a system alike PAYE - but for many are just numbers on a piece of paper - they just look at the check or the bank account.

            Seeing the money on you account and than having to pay them personally is far, far different from a

            psychological point of view - which makes the tax burden much more felt. Sure, there's the risk many will spend the money and then won't pay taxes.

            And you'd be surprised looking at what companies do with tax money before paying them. Do you really believe they keep them in a safe waiting for the payment? Look at bankrupt proceedings...

        2. Twanky Bronze badge

          Re: Tax paid by employees are employees' money, not employer's one.

          No. VAT is *collected* by those who sell from those who buy. It is then accounted for by the seller and paid to the state.

        3. 9Rune5 Silver badge

          Re: Tax paid by employees are employees' money, not employer's one.

          And there's a risk they may not be paid when a companies goes into bad waters.

          In Norway there have been cases where the defaulted company turns out did NOT pay income taxes on behalf of their employees. So, not only were they out of a job after their employer went tits-up, but they also faced a hefty tax claim.

          One could argue that the entity that will be held liable should be the one to actually pay the tax. I hope the system is different in the UK. (it might've changed in Norway for all I know, the story I heard happened years ago)

  6. Kez
    Thumb Down

    ""All of us as individuals pay a variety of taxes. We all pay our council tax, and we pay VAT.

    "We don't think that absolves us from the duty of paying our income tax.""

    Bollocks. I wouldn't pay income tax if I thought I could get away with it. The state of public services (that in many cases we're made to pay for upfront as well; see transport, passports, licensing) suggests we're not exactly getting value for money.

    1. Fred Dibnah Silver badge

      The state of public services suggests to me that there isn’t enough money to pay for them. Sure there are inefficiencies, but in my experience no more than in the private sector. You can run a library or youth service efficiently, but when there isn’t enough money to keep the service going at all it doesn’t matter how ‘efficient’ you are.

      The total tax take has fallen for 40 years and we now see the result. Funnily enough the biggest fall has been from the wealthy and corporations. Who’d have thought it?

      1. Twanky Bronze badge

        Total tax take

        Hmm... It depends how you look at it. See: https://www.ukpublicrevenue.co.uk/uk_national_revenue_analysis

        So, how much tax should a UK government take during 'normal' times? A formula to get an absolute amount that it says it 'needs' to get the job done? Or a percentage share of GDP? Or just levelling the playing field between the rich and poor? Or some other funding formula?

        I'm not too sure about the assertion about the fall in tax take from the wealthy and corporations either - I'll have to dig further.

        1. Mark 110

          Re: Total tax take

          "I'm not too sure about the assertion about the fall in tax take from the wealthy and corporations either - I'll have to dig further."

          Don't go looking for evidence to prove your argument. Bad science.

          Go look at the evidence then come to a conclusion. You seem to have a conclusion without evidence.

          1. Twanky Bronze badge

            Re: Total tax take

            I would have thought testing an assertion is worth research. However, it *would* have been better if the assertion had been backed by evidence.

            My research (digging) shows me that the tax take from corporations *has* decreased as a percentage of GDP in the past 40 years (see: https://www.ukpublicrevenue.co.uk/revenue_chart_1980_2021UKp_17c1li111mcn_60t) but not in absolute or inflation adjusted pounds, The decrease appears to be linked to the early 90's. Correlation is not necessarily cause.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "The total tax take has fallen for 40 years and we now see the result. Funnily enough the biggest fall has been from the wealthy and corporations. Who’d have thought it?"

        Any references for that claim?

        Checking the results over the last 40 years (or since 1963 for that matter as the Guardian has published the data here: https://www.theguardian.com/news/datablog/2010/apr/25/tax-receipts-1963) and adjusting for inflation (from here https://www.officialdata.org/1860-GBP-in-2017?amount=1), I get:

        Total tax increase: 247% over last 40 years

        Total tax increase adjusted for inflation: 69% over last 40 years

        1. Twanky Bronze badge

          It is quite possible that the total tax take might be measured in a number of ways of which one or more might come out as falling over the past 40 years. For example there could be percentage of GDP, multiples of GDP per capita, inflation adjusted GDP, US$ value, Euro value (post 1993, and pro-rated against ERM back to 1979), multiple of minimum wage etc etc. Also, does that include local government as well as central? We need to know what is being asserted and then if the assertion about the tax take from the 'wealthy' (not sure if he means 'richer than me' or 'richer than Twanky' or 'richer than average' or 'richer than that git down the road who just bought a Jag') and corporations is measured using the same scale.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Government revenue as a percentage of GDP is useful for comparing countries, but is largely flat between 34%-36%, varying more due to economic conditions (i.e. recessions resulting in a drop in tax revenue, tax being increased to meet the shortfall or economic booms resulting in a financial boom).

            I'm aware the number of people paying income tax has decreased, but that's due to raising tax free thresholds and unlikely to significantly influence the original posters points about a decrease in tax take resulting in less services.

            At least from a central government perspective, the reverse is true - there has been a significant increase in tax revenue over the last 40 years, so the likely cause for "the state of public services suggests to me that there isn’t enough money to pay for them" is changes in expectations from these services, health being the most obvious in terms of both spending and changes in services expected (https://ichef.bbci.co.uk/news/624/cpsprodpb/166A5/production/_101731819_chart-nhs_spend-srmmu-nc.png).

    2. Twanky Bronze badge

      Public services

      I'm not at all sure Transport should be a public service. Sure, I think disadvantaged people should get transport subsidies but why does the state want to encourage the majority of people to commute many miles to work or for entertainment? If I choose to work in central London why should the state subsidise my journey from my rural idyll?

      I understand that the state might want to discourage people using individual transport (cars) to get into the city for environmental or efficiency reasons but that behaviour is self limiting - how much are people prepared to pay in terms of their time (and local taxes like the Congestion Charge) to avoid using the train service vs how much that service costs?

      1. Stork Silver badge

        Re: Public services

        I don't know how many places you can point to that has a working public transport without subsidies. In Switzerland they even approve the subsidy in referendums.

        1. Twanky Bronze badge

          Re: Public services

          That's a fair point. I particularly approve of your qualification about 'working' systems.

          Voting on spending policies means that the tax payers have a level of approval over state spending. Do the Swiss also vote on spending for say, public libraries or child care? Personally, I approve of spending on both but not in preference to say, schools.

          1. Stork Silver badge

            Re: Public services

            First, I don't have super detailed knowledge. But generally, things are run at as local level as possible; as an example I remember one of the parties in the municipality we lived in campaigning for closing a museum to save money. I think the answer is"it depends".

            They do get a laundry list of issues to vote on three or four times a year.

            A famous example was that the people of Basel approved spending a major sum buying a Picasso for their museum, he was so touched that he donated quite a few more.

        2. LDS Silver badge

          Re: Public services

          Switzerland is a small and rich country - often made rich by illegal foreign money <G>.

          What works in Switzerland may not work in far larger, and less rich (per-capita) countries - which have far larger issues to address.

          1. Stork Silver badge

            Re: Public services

            Sure. But it is also a country where a large part of the population feels it has a genuine stake in how the place is run - the attitude is that is it still "our" money when we have paid the tax, and it should be spent well.

            A lot of stuff is over specified, pushed by pressure groups, but genuine white elephants to fit politicians' egos are rare.

            It is also (often) reflected in the ethos of the public _service_. I went to the local tax office to ask if I had understood the terms correct, and I was told that yes, and an interest declaration in Portuguese was ok as the boss knew Spanish and could read it.

            Very interesting place to live - I felt a mix of frustration and admiration.

            Of course everything is easier when you have money - but I am quite sure that public transport is subsidised all over Europe. No reason to believe it would run without in the UK (or even England).

      2. LDS Silver badge

        "If I choose to work in central London"

        Have you ever thought not everybody working in central London has a rich pay? Say, for example, janitors, waiters, etc. etc.?

        1. Twanky Bronze badge

          Re: "If I choose to work in central London"

          'Sure, I think disadvantaged people should get transport subsidies'

          It seems daft to me to take money in general taxation and then spend a chunk of it on *all* commuters. If someone is disadvantaged (eg not earning something we might dub a 'Living Wage' or whatever label) then they could be entitled to subsidised transport. Setting that level in a policy would then open it up to public debate.

          1. Stork Silver badge

            Re: "If I choose to work in central London"

            But what you then get is yet more of the cases where the real marginal tax rate (they loose subsidies for this that and the other) gets extremely high - plus extra admin.

            If you want people to drive less (air, congestion) you have to make it attractive and practical to use the alternatives.

  7. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Carbon Neutral

    Amazon announced that they aim to be carbon neutral by 2040

    I suppose paying very little tax could be described as being "Tax Neutral"

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Hodge went on to list the benefits bestowed on Amazon by dint of being in Blighty, including healthy and educated workers, thanks to the cash spent by UK taxpayers on the NHS and schooling; the broadband infrastructure used to order stuff from the retail store; and, of course, the transport infrastructure used to ship gear around the country."

    A good point often overlooked.

  9. Justice
    WTF?

    Pot. Kettle. Black.

    Margaret Hodge's family company Stemcor pays just 0.01pc tax on £2.1bn of business generated in the UK.

    Her hypocrisy is astonishing.

  10. Andytug

    Also don’t forget

    that many of these companies employ/pay politicians in many countries to make sure that those tax laws stay porous, so they can be evaded.

  11. Real Horrorshow

    This how its meant to work and Hodge knows it.

    Successive UK governments - including ones of which Margaret Hodge was a member - have colluded in this for decades now. The 'Big Four' accountancy firms provide staff, without charge, to advise MPs on drafting the loopholed legislation that makes this sort of practice legal - or practically so. They then advise their corporate clients on how to evade the laws so drafted.

    The 'Revolving Door' system (which supposedly prevents them getting paid for blatant conflicts of interest) actually allows MPs and Civil Servants to move into well-paid sinecures with these same firms after their careers are over.

    Meanwhile, HMRC has about half the staff it had 10 years ago and has been run by a succession of people who previously worked for the 'Big Four' and, after a brief stint with the tax man, go back to working for them. Oddly enough, these people don't seem very keen on enforcing the few legal powers they actually have, especially against their former (and future) employers. In the UK only 'little people' pay tax.

    1. Robert D Bank
      Pint

      Re: This how its meant to work and Hodge knows it.

      have 10

  12. nick soph

    Please send more tax than our rules say you should.

    Do we really think the NHS would be in its current state if MP's were obliged to get all their health services from it?

    That you were speaking to Margret Hodge and didn't discuss her families use of offshore shell companies to pay less tax, shows you didnt do your research and I doubt you think people should pay as much tax as they feel morally obligated to do. So are you really making a story of about a fishing millionaire (who didnt pay more tax than she needed to) who says "Amazon didnt pay more tax than it needed to!"

    Margaret Hodge's outrage and most of this article is deflecting from the real questions about how to change the laws.

    1. Tom 7 Silver badge

      Re: Please send more tax than our rules say you should.

      After I stopped laughing when I read Ayn Rand I thought no-one could really be stupid enough to try anything like that. I was horribly wrong. However it is only a matter of time before even the most hardened Rand fanatic realises that even a badly run state is a lot cheaper and more efficient than any Randian delusion. I just hope we dont get to test it out here.

      1. Robert D Bank

        Re: Please send more tax than our rules say you should.

        we'll find out when we try and get a trade deal with the US. It'll be like Last Tango in Paris, without the kindness of butter to smooth the way.

  13. jospanner

    It's weird how money has more freedom than people.

  14. JohnG Silver badge

    EU

    "Europe," she said, "is being very robust in demanding transparency, on where profits are earned and where money is made."

    Of course, the UK is due to exit that club at some point in the future.

    The crux of Amazon's low corporation tax bill in the UK (along with a few other multinationals) is that they can supply goods and services in the UK but say they are sold out of Ireland or Luxembourg and invoice from one of those jurisdictions, which offer them favourable tax rates - and single market rules allow them to do this. Once the UK is no longer part of the single market, that loophole would not be so attractive.

  15. Uberior

    We need a new tax!

    We need a new tax!

    Ok, I'm not really a tax, tax, tax person, but there are a couple of things that really annoy me.

    - Outrageous linked company interest rates

    - Outrageous linked company licensing rates

    All designed to reduce profit in one tax regime and boost it in a lower tax regime.

    How about a 100% rate on linked company interest rates in excess of the "Official Rate" and a 100% rate on linked company licensing fees?

    1. the Jim bloke Silver badge
      Trollface

      Re: We need a new tax!

      Personally, I would like to see corporations taxed on the proportion of MBAs in management positions. So if everyone has an MBA, thats 100% tax. and on earnings, not "profits".

      This is an attempt to recapture the golden age when companies made "things", and were run by people who knew how, and wanted, to make "things", as (violently) opposed to now, when companies only make "money", and dont really give a shit how they do it.

      I just dont like MBAs, and think they are a contributing factor to the demise of ethics and the social contract.

  16. Robert D Bank

    For simplicity I feel a transaction tax would be effective and simpler to administer. A transaction would be taxed in the physical jurisdiction it takes place which would be indisputable. It should also include any internal transfer pricing transactions. The larger the value of the transaction then graduate the tax accordingly to prevent artificial aggregation of smaller transactions. This would level the playing field between smaller and large business.

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