issue 151

Boycott news from Ethical Consumer magazine issue 151 November/December 2014.


Burger King boycott call over tax 


SodaStream leaves West Bank


UEFA responds to Palestine campaign







Burger King boycott call over tax 


Fast food chain Burger King is the latest US company to be embroiled in the tax avoidance debate and has become the subject of a boycott call as a result. The company is about to attempt an ‘inversion’, a tactic of tax avoidance that is becoming prevalent in corporate America. Burger King is proposing to merge with the smaller Canadian doughnut and coffee chain Tim Hortons and register the combined company in Canada, where it would be able to take advantage of lower tax rates on its U.S. revenues. 

A tax inversion occurs when an American company merges with a foreign one and, in the process, reincorporates abroad, effectively entering a tax regime outside the US. Canada’s corporate tax rate inOntario of 26.5% (the federal rate of 15% plus Ontario’s provincial corporate tax rate of 11.5%) is considerably lower than the American corporate tax rate of 35%, thanks in large part to the conservative Canadian government led by Stephen Harper. According to Forbes, a recent KPMG Report – Focus on Tax – ranked Canada as the number one country with the most business-friendly tax structure amongst developed countries (the UK was second).3

According to the Independent, the announcement was met with criticism by Burger King fans on social media, where customers threatened to boycott the chain if the merger goes ahead.

One user wrote on Burger King’s Facebook page: “If you attempt to buy Tim Hortons for the purposes of evading US Taxes, I will NEVER step foot in another Burger King again...Don’t do it”.

Another customer added: “Done eating at BK if you become a tax cheat you can count my family of seven as former customers.”

Democratic Senator for Ohio, Sherrod Brown, also joined calls for a boycott. “To help business grow in America, taxpayers have funded public infrastructure, workforce training, and incentives to encourage R&D and capital investment. Runaway corporations benefited from those policies but want U.S. companies to pay their share of the tab.” he said in a statement.

However as Mark Gongloff pointed out in the Huffington Post: “The private equity fund that currently runs Burger King, 3G Capital, is Brazilian... It does not give a cold French fry whether Burger King is based in Miami, Toronto, or Rigel IV. Burger King may be an American brand, but it is only barely an American company.”4





Israel Boycott Update


SodaStream leaves West Bank


SodaStream has announced that it is to ditch its controversial West Bank manufacturing facility. The company stresses that this has nothing to do with the recent BDS campaigns that saw them close their flagship store in Brighton and have their products removed from John Lewis stores.

Instead the company maintain that it is for purely financial reasons. CEO Daniel Birnbaum told the Israeli Haaretz newspaper that the decision has nothing to do with the “financial terrorists” currently running the boycott campaign against the company.1

He added that “The boycott is a nuisance, but does not cause serious financial damage. We are not giving in to the boycott. We are Zionist.” However, according to Haaretz, a recent earnings report 

stated that the company had revised its expected revenue downward, saying it expects its revenue will rise by 5% rather than 15%. It said the company continues to show a lower profit margin and has failed to expand its reach in North America.



UEFA responds to Palestine campaign


The Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) has rejected Israel’s bid to host games during the 2020 European Championships. The decision follows a campaign by Palestinian sports teams and campaign groups and activists across Europe.

The BDS website reports that 75 Palestinian football teams and NGOs wrote to UEFA president Michel Platini arguing that holding the UEFA 2020 games in Jerusalem would be tantamount to “rewarding” Israel for its “massacre of more than 2,100 Palestinians, including over 500 children, during its recent 52-day assault on Gaza”.

Campaigners across Europe pressured UEFA and national football associations not to accept the Israeli bid. Sit-ins were held by Palestine solidarity activists at the headquarters of French and Italian football associations.

Abdulrahman Abunahel, the coordinator in Gaza with the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee said: “Given that awarding Israel the right to host the games would have been a sign of support for Israel’s massacre in Gaza and its war on Palestinian football, UEFA has made the only sensible decision.”2





References. Viewed September 2014: