Posts Tagged ‘Grolsch’

Shop a Scrounger

December 4, 2010

What do Topshop (Sir Philip Green Arcadia Group), Vodafone, SABMiller (brewers of Grolsch), Boots, Barclays and now Cadbury’s, all have in common? They all dodge their taxes.

We all pay our taxes. We may not like it, but it is part of our civic duty, part of our obligation to the Big Society. But not it seems if we are big enough. If we are big enough or rich enough, we get away with paying little or no tax.

The poorer you are, the more likely you are to be demonised, to be called a scrounger. A whole army of informers and investigators has been enlisted to target these people, shop a scrounger we are told in government media campaigns.

But who are these scroungers? The single Mum who puts in a few hours down the pub to make ends meet, the extra bit of cash-in-hand that makes the difference between her kids having new clothes or not.

A pensioner unable to pay his or her Council Tax is thrown into prison. A small business struggling to meet the tax demand will be put out of business. But if you are rich enough or big enough you pay little or no tax.

It was the greedy bankers who got the economy into a mess. And who bailed them out? The long-suffering taxpayers. And who makes up the shortfall? The poor and disadvantaged by having their welfare cut.

The tax that is not being paid has been calculated to be twice that of the budget deficit. That is if those who did not pay their taxes were forced to do so, not only would there be no need for cuts in public spending, there would be money to spend on railways, on insulating homes, on developing new greener technologies, on providing a national fast broadband infrastructure, on paying students to go to university, for more nurses and teachers, for repair of crumbling schools, for sports facilities for all.

Wealthy people and corporations avoiding and evading tax cost the UK £120 billion per year. That’s enough to cancel out the spending cuts twice over between now and 2014. By contrast, estimated cost of people over-claiming benefits costs the government £1 billion per year – roughly equal to the amount of tax dodged by Barclays Bank alone.

Who are the real scroungers?

Vodafone were let off a £6 billion tax bill. Their financial director just happens to be advisor to the Chancellor on corporate tax.

SABMiller pay less tax in Ghana than a local stall at the market. The tax they do not pay means kids do not go to school.

Barclays have complex tax avoidance schemes in place that make money out of nothing. Money that you and I pay for for with lost tax revenue.

Boots head office is a PO Box in Switzerland. Boots is owned by a hedge fund.

Cadbury’s, now American owned, a buyout financed by taxpayer-owned RBS, looks set to follow the example of Boots.

Sir Philip Green (owner of Arcadia, owner of Topshop) avoided £300 million on his £1.2 billion dividend payout by paying it through his wife who is resident in Monaco. Green is government adviser on cutting waste, ie code for public spending cuts.

Today Topshop stores across the country were shut down in protest. In London, Topshop security thugs attacked protesters in full view of police witnesses. Will the police be bringing charges for these assaults?

And the media? To their credit, the Mail Online had excellent coverage, but from the BBC during the day a deathly silence. No mention on the BBC Radio 4 lunchtime news, but did manage to mention that a bicycle thief had been apprehended through the trail he left in the snow. What then of their flagship PM news slot at 5pm? Er nothing. Out of a half hour prime early evening news, almost 15 minutes on Spanish air traffic controllers strikes (including sob story of stranded Brits) and tut tut Fifa not awarding World Cup football to England, several minutes on Oprah Winfrey taking her show to Sydney in Australia, several minutes on Asil Nadir allegedly breaching his bail conditions, a few second mention of climate protesters on the streets of London (blink and you would have missed it) but absolutely zilch on concerned citizens shutting down Topshop stores and the scandal of tax avoidance by the likes of Sir Philip Green and the implications it has for all of us in loss of public services. But there was coverage on the BBC Radio 4 6pm news. Channel 4 News once again put BBC to shame.


Tax Justice Network

Tax Research UK Blog

False Economy

Also see

Topshop day of action against tax dodger Sir Philip Green

Why cuts are the wrong cure

How SAB Miller escapes tax in developing countries

Grolsch tax avoidance

Mayhem in Oxford St as protesters target stores including Topshop’s flagship branch over firms avoiding tax bills

Tax protests: at last people have a way to express their anger

Cadbury’s secret Swiss move will cost UK exchequer millions in tax

Topshop’s flagship London store hit by tax protest

The day the teenagers turned on Topshop

Haringey Vodafone unpaid tax protest

Grateful Vodafone executives say a big thank you to Chancellor George Osborne

Nationwide shut down of Vodafone stores

Vodafone £6 billion unpaid tax bill

Cadbury goes Swiss to avoid British tax: Move by U.S. bosses will cost Treasury £60 million a year

UK Uncut targets Topshop and Vodafone over tax arrangements

Grolsch tax avoidance

December 1, 2010
schtop corporate tax avoidance

schtop corporate tax avoidance

Everyone has heard of the Vodafone £6 billion unpaid tax bill, a tax bill which if paid would mean the £7 billion welfare cuts would not have been necessary. Well ok, few people have heard of it, not a single one I have spoken to had, which only goes to show the power of the mainstream media, power that is to protect vested interests.

Another tax avoider is SABMiller. Who, is a reasonable response? SABMiller is the owner of Grolsch (the beer in the fancy bottles) and as Action Aid has exposed, they do not pay their taxes in Africa.

How little tax? its Ghanaian brewery manages to pay less tax per year than a local firm selling its beer at a food stall! SABMiller controls more than 30% of Ghana’s beer market, yet its operating profit there is a mere 0.69% of its income. Why? Because it ensures its ‘profits’ are recorded in low tax havens. As a result of this practice, the company paid no tax to Ghana for three of the last four years – a significant loss to a country where corporate income tax accounts for £1 of every £7 in the public purse.

SABMiller would argue that what they do is not illegal, though the jury is out on that one. Whether legal or not is beside the point, it is immoral.

The money that African countries lose each year could put an extra 250,000 children in school.

We are quick and rightly so to highlight corruption of African leaders, but what of corrupt practices of Big Business that operates in those countries?

The World Bank and IMF are quick to restructure poor countries, force them into a fire sale of their assets. Why are they not so quick to deal with large companies who exploit their position? IMF and World Bank have the resources which poor countries lack to ensure these companies pay their taxes, have decent working conditions, pay fair wages etc, not as too often facilitate their exploitation.

Tax dodging costs poor countries billions each year – far more than they receive in aid. The more money poor countries can raise in taxes the less aid they will need.

Please sign the letter to SABMiller chief executive to pay their taxes. Add to the letter you will be encouraging everyone to stop drinking their lager.

Please pass the word. Post on facebook, re-tweet, e-mail to friends.

Back in the UK, Top Shop has been added by UK Uncut to Vodafone as a major avoider of tax. Like Vodafone, their shops are now legitimate targets to be occupied. Is it not a bit rich that billionaire tax dodger Sir Philip Green (owner of Arcadia Group which includes Top Shop, Dorothy Perkins and Miss Selfridge) is Prime Minister David Cameron’s efficiency adviser? But then the finance director of Vodafone is advisor to Chancellor George Osbourne on corporate tax. Maybe they would both like to advise on efficient collection of corporate tax.

But help is to hand, UK Uncut has formed the Big Society Revenue and Customs (BSRC). Staffed by armies of citizen volunteers they will replace the HMRC and, in their own unique way, make sure that corporate tax avoiders pay.

UK Uncut has the support of Jubilee Debt Campaign, War on Want and a rapidly growing band of activists.

In light of the hard dedicated support by UK Uncut on behalf of society, please nominate for a Big Society Award.

Also see

ActionAid exposes tax dodging by UK brewing giant SABMiller, owners of Grolsch

Schtop fleecing Ghana

Tax Justice campaign

Calling time on tax avoidance

New target for Dec 4th day of action is Sir Philip Green

Philip Green to be target of corporate tax avoidance protest

Haringey Vodafone unpaid tax protest

Grateful Vodafone executives say a big thank you to Chancellor George Osborne

Nationwide shut down of Vodafone stores

Vodafone £6 billion unpaid tax bill

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