Tuesday, 13 November 2012

A few more companies who don't seem to need to pay tax

Mike Seccombe in Google: Don’t Be Evil, Don’t Pay Tax describes how Google uses a Double Irish Dutch Sandwich so it doesn't need to pay tax in Australia (and many other countries).
A couple of weeks ago, Google Australia's spokesman went straight to script when media reports began appearing about Google's latest filing with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission, which showed the company had paid just $74,176 in tax in Australia on last year's estimated revenue of more than $900 million.
In Tax fury: Google, Amazon, Starbucks admit: 'we hardly pay anything' AP report that Starbucks in the UK has come in for some questioning by a UK Parliamentary committee:
In sometimes bitter exchanges, MPs said they could not accept that Starbucks had reported losses for all but one of the 15 years it has operated in the UK, suspecting the firm was attempting to minimise the taxes it pays in Britain.

"You have run the business for 15 years and are losing money and you are carrying on investing here. It just doesn't ring true," said Margaret Hodge, head of Parliament's Public Accounts Committee on Monday.

Troy Alstead, Starbucks global chief financial officer, acknowledged to the panel that its taxable profits in the UK are calculated after royalties paid to its European headquarters in the Netherlands have been deducted. Alstead acknowledged that it has a special tax arrangement with the Dutch government covering its headquarters.

Companies operating in Europe can base themselves in any of the 27 EU nations, allowing them to take advantage of a particular country's low tax rates.

Alstead insisted that Starbucks was not seeking to mislead investors or tax authorities about its performance in Britain.

"We are not at all pleased about our financial performance here. It is fundamentally true everything we are saying and everything we have said historically," he told the committee
I wonder if Mr Alstead had a straight face when he expressed his company's displeasure with their financial performance.

More on the Parliamentary inquiry, including video of an Amazon executive being questioned. At least Google admits that it is trying to reduce its taxes - Starbucks, Google and Amazon grilled over tax avoidance:
He further freely accepted that until recently, the Ireland company was paying a fee to a separate Dutch company within Google, purely for the purpose of reducing its taxes.

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