Major firms quizzed over tax

Starbucks, Google and Amazon are bring questioned by MPs on the Public Accounts Committee on the issue of tax avoidance. The multinational firms are accused of paying little or no tax on their UK earnings.

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John Lewis boss calls for 'even playing field' for UK businesses

The managing director of high street staple John Lewis has called on the Government to look at the way foreign multinational companies pay tax in the UK.

Andy Street said companies in overseas tax havens will "out-invest and ultimately out-trade" businesses paying full taxes in the UK.

Shoppers at the flagship Oxford Street John Lewis store Credit: Yui Mok/PA Wire

He called on the Treasury to look into the "principle" that underpins where earnings are taxed - suggesting that UK companies are not competing on a level playing field.

His comments come just two days after bosses from Starbucks, Google and Amazon were were grilled by MPs over how they manage to pay little or no corporation tax on their UK operations.

All three repeatedly denied the accusation they were engaged in aggressive tax avoidance and were met with derision from members of the Public Accounts Select Committee.

MP urges Starbucks, Amazon and Google boycott

A senior MP has urged consumers to boycott Starbucks, Amazon and Google in protest at what she says is "immoral" avoidance of UK tax.

Margaret Hodge backed direct action to punish the well-known firms after they failed to convince a Commons spending watchdog that they were paying a "fair share".

"I think one should boycott these companies. I do actually think that is the right thing to do," she said after leading a fiery three-hour grilling of executives.


Protest group: 'Cabinet out-of-touch with women'

The Government could easily bring in billions that could fund vital services by clamping down on tax-dodging, but are instead making cuts that are forcing women to choose between motherhood and work, and trapping them in abusive relationships.

– Sarah Greene, UK Uncut activist

Women have had enough of being attacked by a Cabinet of out-of-touch millionaire men. The Government's savage austerity plans are pushing the cause of women's equality back decades.

Welfare, healthcare, SureStart centres, childcare, rape and domestic abuse services are being cut and female unemployment is rocketing.

Benefits cuts are forcing women to choose between heating the house and feeding the family. No-one should have to make these choices.

– Sheena Shah, UK Uncut activist


MPs to grill Amazon on tax

Amazon bosses are set to face though questions from the Commons Public Accounts Committee inquiry today over their tax strategies.

Amazon bosses will face a grilling by MPs today Credit: Chris Radburn/PA Wire

Amazon's main UK unit paid less than £1 million in income tax last year. The company had UK sales worth $5.3-7.2 billion, filings show.

Amazon allegedly avoids UK taxes by reporting European sales through a Luxembourg-based unit.

This structure allowed it to pay a tax rate of 11 percent on foreign profits last year - less than half the average corporate income tax rate in its major markets, the report found.

Google accused of avoiding tax

Google will give evidence to Commons Public Accounts Committee inquiry today into taxation of multinational companies.

Google has been accused of not paying enough tax Credit: Martin Keene/PA Wire

Google's filings show it had $4 billion of sales in the UK last year, but despite having a group-wide profit margin of 33 percent, its main UK unit had a tax charge of just £3.4 million in 2011.

The company allegedly avoids UK tax by channeling non-U.S. sales via an Irish unit, an arrangement that allowed it to pay taxes at a rate of 3.2 percent on non-U.S. profits.

UK and Germany agree crackdown on tax loopholes

George Osborne has joined forces with the German finance minister, Wolfgang Schäuble, to announce an international crackdown on tax avoidance by multinational companies.

Chancellor George Osborne Credit: David Jones/PA Wire

Osborne and Schäuble said they would back work by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development to identify possible gaps in tax laws.

The joint statement by the two countries admits, that "international tax standards have had difficulty keeping up with changes in global business practices, such as the development of e-commerce in commercial activities."

The two countries add: "As a result, some multi-national businesses are able to shift the taxation of their profits away from the jurisdictions where they are being generated, thus minimising their tax payments compared to smaller, less international companies."

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