Tax dodging laid bare
The Sunday Mirror have reported that six of the world’s biggest companies paid just 0.3 per cent of their UK earnings in corporation tax last year.
The paper examined the UK accounts of Apple, Facebook, Amazon, Google, Ebay and Starbucks and found the six firms have reported a total of £2.6billion of revenue in the last year but many more billions of pounds of sales from the UK are recorded every year by subsidiary companies – often located in tax havens like Luxembourg and Switzerland.
Apple's two UK firms saw £1billion turnover in 2013 and paid £12.9million in corporation tax on £59.5million profit.
But total UK sales were estimated at £6.7billion, with the bulk of earnings sent to Ireland, where it has three subsidiary firms.
One of these, Apple Operations Ireland, enjoyed an income reported at £19.6billion between 2009 and 2012.
Apple is also accused of holding almost £85billion in offshore bank accounts.
But boss Tim Cook said: “We pay all the taxes we owe, every single dollar. We not only comply with the laws, but we comply with the spirit of the laws.”
Google's US parent company revealed it earned £3.3billion in the UK last year.
But Google UK Limited paid just £20.4million in UK corporation tax on its enormous £642million turnover.
Google reportedly used subsidiaries in Ireland and Bermuda to legally avoid £1.2billion in taxes in 2012.
UK boss Matt Brittan told the MPs in 2012: “Google plays by the rules set by politicians.”
But MP Margaret Hodge told him in the Commons: “We are not accusing you of being illegal. We're accusing you of being immoral."
Starbucks reported £3.4million UK corporation tax on sales of £399million in latest accounts, as part of its commitment to pay £20million in tax for 2013 and 2014 following a public outcry.
Starbucks pays a royalty fee on every coffee sold in the UK to a sister company in Holland.
The EU has accused Dutch tax authorities of giving illegal state aid to Starbucks and the firm has announced plans to move its HQ to the UK.
UK boss Mark Fox has said: “There is nothing abnormal about the way Starbucks is run in the UK. We haven’t been making a profit.”
Amazon's British firm Amazon.co.uk Limited paid £4.2million in corporation tax in 2013 despite earning an estimated £4.2billion from the UK.
The UK firm reported £449million in turnover because customers buy goods from Luxembourg- based Amazon EU Sarl, and the UK division is little more than a delivery company.
Amazon faces a European Commission probe into a tax deal reportedly struck in Luxembourg.
Amazon said: “Amazon pays all applicable taxes in every jurisdiction it operates within. We have a single European HQ in Luxembourg.”
EBay paid just £620,000 in corporation tax last year after generating sales of more than £1.3billion.
The company sends fees paid by sellers in Britain to a sister firm in Luxembourg called PayPal (Europe) Sarl.
eBay (UK) Limited only disclosed £164million worth of sales.
An eBay spokeswoman said: “eBay complies fully with all applicable tax laws and regimes - including national, EU, and internationally recognised rules.”
Facebook paid no corporation tax in the UK last year – and even earned a £182,196 tax credit.
Facebook UK Limited recorded almost £50million revenue in the UK but experts believe the total could be more than five times higher.
It legally avoids tax by routing £2.4billion in earnings from across Europe to Ireland, where it paid just £1.8million in Irish corporation tax.
The firm said: “Facebook complies with all relevant corporate regulations.
Dublin was selected as the best location to hire staff with the right skills to run a multilingual hi-tech operation.”
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