Occupy Starbucks and smell the hypocrisy

refuge from the cuts

refuge from the cuts

Amazon makes $20 million on $9 billion of sales – and says no profit goes to a tax haven. Really? — Richard Murphy, tax consultant

While tax dodgers Amazon and Starbucks avoid millions in tax – 230 women are turned away from refuges every day because of the government’s cuts. — UK Uncut

[to Starbucks] You’re either running the business very badly or there’s a fiddle going on. — Austin Mitchell MP, member of Commons Public Accounts Committee

[to Starbucks] I just don’t believe any corporate entity would sustain losses for 15 years and stay in UK. — Margaret Hodge MP, chair of Commons Public Accounts Committee

[to Starbucks] How do you explain telling global investors you make profits yet file £33mn losses in UK? — Margaret Hodge MP, chair of Commons Public Accounts Committee

It may be ageing or mellowing on my part but I think Margaret Hodge is getting rather good at this Public Accounts Committee doodah. — Mark Thomas

Today Starbucks, Amazon and Google were hauled before the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee to explain their tax dodging activities.

Together with Costa, Starbucks blights our town centres with coffee shops serving overpriced poor quality coffee. Starbucks dodges tax.

Amazon locates it e-books in Luxembourg where VAT is only 3%, but in dealings with publishers, uses 20% VAT as starting point for negotiations. If you have a Kindle, you risk that without rhyme nor reason your books will be wiped off your Kindle and your account closed.

Google is the third member of the tax dodging trio.

For idealogical not sound economic reasons the ConDem government is slashing public spending. Were companies like Starbucks, Amazon and Google to pay their fair share of tax, there would be no excuse to slash public spending as their would be no budget deficit.

A Reuters investigation from October showing that since Starbucks opened its first store in the UK in 1998 it has made £3bn in sales but paid just £8.6m in income taxes.

What many multinational companies do, and there is nothing new here, is make a loss in a high tax country, and big profit in a low tax country.

There are many ways of doing this. For example buying services from one part of the company that is located in a low tax haven.

Starbucks operate through Holland, because the Dutch government give them concessionary low tax rate, but it cannot be disclosed.

On 8 December 2012, UK Uncut intend to occupy Starbucks to highlight their tax dodging activities and to link the loss of taxes with the savage cuts in services which are hitting the poor and disadvantaged, in particular women. They intend to turn Starbucks into refuges for the homeless and women who have been turned away from refuges because they are full.

I would not normally be seen dead in a Starbucks, but maybe I can make an exception for one day. It looks like it is going to be a fun day.

If you are a small business and you pay tax, then why are you drinking coffee in Starbucks who do not pay tax?

In their evidence to the House of Commons Select Committee, Starbucks claimed their UK operation was not profitable. If it is not profitable, then let us make it even less profitable by boycotting their coffee shops.

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15 Responses to “Occupy Starbucks and smell the hypocrisy”

  1. keithpp Says:

    Following their savaging by the House of Commons Public Accounts Select Committee shedding crocodile tears.


    They claim they pay business rates, National Insurance.

    So does every other business. The two taxes they are unable to dodge.

    No mention of opening stores without planning consent.

    The claim they create hundreds of jobs.

    No mention of the hundreds of indie coffee shops destroyed, no mention of the jobs lost.

    No mention of staff on minimum wage, no mention of staff clocking off and not getting paid during slack periods.

    How many Starbuck staff on minimum wage are being subsidised by the taxpayer through Tax Credits? Why are staff not being paid a Living Wage?

    Starbucks employs apprentices. Yet another wheeze to get taxpayers to subsidize wages.

    They claim they are operating in a tough economic environment. No tougher than it is for indie coffee shops, who in addition pay their taxes on profits earnt.

    They say they pay a royalty to use the toxic Starbuck brand.

    Erm, a royalty to use your own name! Or in other words a tax fiddle. A tax fiddle to shift profit from a high tax country to a low tax country.

    To achieve economies of scale, we buy through Switzerland.

    Erm no, it is a tax fiddle. No coffee passes through Switzerland. The coffee is bought through Switzerland then sold on to UK with a 20% mark-up. Thus transferring profits from a high tax country to a low tax country.

    Starbucks appear to be saying their UK operation is a zombie company kept alive on artificial life support. In which case, why tell investors it was highly profitable? Was this an attempt to rig the Starbucks share price? In which case should there not be an investigation by the Security and Exchange Commission?

    If you cannot make a profit selling poor quality coffee at an extortionate price, then maybe you should not be in business.

    Starbucks claim to be selling quality coffee.

    A US consumer report said even McDonald’s was selling better quality coffee.


    Starbucks is an ethical company.

    An Oxfam report said otherwise.


    Or the experience of one company at the hands of Starbucks.


    It would seem a massive own goal by Starbucks, even better you can add your own comments. The only positive comment, is from a PR consultant with Starbucks as the client!


    And better still, join the occupation of Starbucks on 8 December 2012.

    Is there an occupation organised near you? If not, then why not offer to organise one.


    And in the meantime, boycott Starbucks. There are plenty of good indie coffee shops around. Why drink rubbish coffee in Starbucks? Once you have discovered an indie coffee shop serving quality coffee, no way will you wish to return to Starbucks.

    Farnham: The Barn – Morello’s

    Godalming: Cafe Mila

    Guildford: Glutton & Glee

  2. keithpp Says:

    It was one of the great committee disasters, like watching the Titanic, the Bismarck and the R101 all go down in the same afternoon. The public accounts committee had summoned executives from three huge multinationals who do millions of pounds of business in Britain but pay peanuts in tax.

    There have been plenty of terrible, grisly, embarrassing, watch-between-your-fingers moments recently as witnesses are shredded on the old barbed-wire sessions – the Murdochs, Bob Diamond of Barclays, that bloke with the mullet from G4S, and most recently George Entwistle. This made them all look like a chat on the sofa with Richard and Judy.


  3. keithpp Says:

    Guest blog from Bakers, Food & Allied Workers Union

  4. keithpp Says:

    How corporation tax got sexy, and why the likes of Google and Starbucks hit new highs of hypocrisy

  5. Martin Belk @MartinNYID Says:

    Well intended but misguided. The government has successfull shifted the blame for this horrific mess off politicians and the dens of thieves at the banks. Instead of attacking a retailer who at least does create jobs, the emphasis needs to go back to those who are truly responsible. Starbucks did not cause the credit collapse.

  6. keithpp Says:

    Not misguided at all. It is not the government who have shifted the blame.

    UK Uncut and Occupy have quite rightly shone the spotlight on tax dodgers like Amazon, Starbucks, Google,and shown that if these tax dodgers paid their fair share of tax, there would be no need for savage cuts to public services and benefits.

    A job at Starbucks is poorly paid, poor working conditions.

    It is incorrect to say Starbucks and Costa create jobs when they blitz an area with their unwanted corporate coffee shops, serving poor quality coffee and often without planning consent, as no account is being taken of the jobs destroyed in the indie coffee shops they drive out of business, indie coffee shops who pay their fair share of tax.


    • Martin Belk @MartinNYID Says:

      With respect, while I do not deny for a minute that you can justify almost every bit of this (‘unwanted shops’ = I happen to like some of them, and the challenge they’ve brought to the abysmal sector that is UK retail and customer service) — if you place it beside of the bank disaster, there is no comparison. Austerity is happening because of RBS & the like, not Starbucks.

      The BBC is one of the largest cash cow failures in the country, and the Guardian is heavily invested offshore as well. Of course they;re going to publish this convenient diversion for Cameron.

      I had high hopes for Occupy, but they failed in making any significant impact on getting bankers arrested for high crimes. I attribute this to the totalitarian state in the UK & US, but also Occupy’s failure to produce viable leaders or a believable course of action. The only exception here, is the Occupy work in NYC after Sandy, and the group rolling jubillee that is working to erase junk debt – two firm ways to help people.

      Other than this, Occupy has been completely infiltrated by outside hacks, and imho is being used to support diversion news stories like this. I can;t stand predatory corporations – but if you really wanted to tackle some that are ripping off everyday UK people – try the phone companies that are based, say, in Ireland, and all those who remain here, and outsource all the work to China.

      Again, while well intended, this is a convenient cause which curiously supports the current corporate news cycle. Come up with a plan that will have a remote chance to see handcuffs on bankers, and I’ll join ya’.

  7. keithpp Says:

    Austerity is happening because the ConDem government see a budget deficit as a convenient excuse for slash and burn of the public sector.

    To claim Occupy has no impact is simply a statement that displays appalling ignorance.

    Tax avoidance would not even be on the political agenda were it not for UK Uncut and Occupy. Only a couple of weeks ago a senior banker at the Bank of England said they were right both morally and legally and that changes were being made as a direct result of their action.

    Changes do not happen overnight and it would take a political simpleton to believe they do.

    To claim Occupy has been infiltrated is nonsense.

    There has been action taken against the banks, but obviously when spouting nonsense, convenient to ignore.

    To claim action against Starbucks is organised by the corporate controlled mainstream media is laughable.

    Yes, Occupy in the US are doing useful work, through debt write off and Occupy Sandy.


    To repeat, what I have to frequently repeat, this blog is not a place for trolls to post their garbage. They get blocked and reported for spam.


  8. keithpp Says:

    38 Degrees seeks your help in tackling tax dodgers

    How to dodge tax and launder money

  9. keithpp Says:

    It’s not up to Starbucks to promise to pay a bit more tax when it suits them, its up to the government to force companies to pay their share . — UK Uncut

    Starbucks are feeling the heat, they have opened up discussions with HMRC.

    Starbucks opens negotiations with HMRC to start paying more UK tax

    Starbucks ‘blatant admission of guilt’ over tax

    Tax: Starbucks in talks with UK’s Revenue and Customs

    Starbucks to review UK tax arrangements

    Starbucks tax review is admission of guilt, says UK Uncut

    Starbucks in talks with taxman

    It is not for Starbucks to decide whether or not they pay tax, it is for HMRC to be vigorous in collecting tax from tax dodgers like Starbucks.

    Keep up the pressure. Starbucks is to be occupied this Saturday 8 December 2012. If there is not an occupation of Starbucks planned near you, then please help organise one.

  10. keithpp Says:

    Google have tried to claim they are doing nothing wrong dodging tax. Nice try, but it will not wash.

    Google UK boss Matt Brittin fights back over tax payments

    Amazon it has been revealed, sales topped £7 billion between 2009-2011 but they managed to dodge tax, paying but paid just £2.3 million in corporation tax

    Amazon UK sales top £7bn confidential figures show

    There is though to be coordinated international action on tax dodging, the French are already taking action.

    Internet giants Google and Amazon face tax attack

    So much for the moronic troll who maligns UK Uncut and Occupy claiming they have no impact. Then when blocked, true to form for trolls, resorts to abuse.

    And as already noted, this site has zero tolerance for trolls.


  11. keithpp Says:

    Connect the dots. Tax dodging is the other side of the coin to massive cuts in public services.

    The golden mug, Osborne’s Autumn statement and tax dodgers who should pay

  12. keithpp Says:

    Unbelievable garbage on Radio 4 lunchtime news World at One from a man trying to justify tax dodging by Starbucks et al.

    The first item on wato, Andy Hayman from the Bank of England who acknowledged the debt to Occupy.

    The second item, a discussion on tyax dodging by Starbucks et al and was it immoral.

    And yet we have a troll who tries to claim neither Occupy or UK Uncut have an impact!

  13. keithpp Says:

    Yet another tax dodger has been outed. Tui (owners of Thomson and First Choice) paid no corporation tax in UK last year. This despite it crowing about having a year of “many successes”, with an 8% leap in underlying pre-tax profits to £390 million.

    Tui Travel (owns Thomson and First Choice) paid no corporation tax in UK last year

    The government must end its softly softly approach to tax dodgers, scrap its proposed ‘anti-abuse rule’ and instead introduce a General Anti-Avoidance Principle to give HMRC a powerful tool to tackle tax avoidance, and make the UK’s tax regime one that is based on fairness, rather than its attractiveness to multinational companies.

    Avoiding avoidance – Government tax plans won’t tackle Amazon, Google & Starbucks

  14. keithpp Says:

    Over 40 Starbucks were occupied across the country.


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