Starbucks, Amazon and Google to face UK lawmakers over tax

Sun Nov 11, 2012 7:24pm EST
 

By Tom Bergin

LONDON (Reuters) - UK lawmakers will quiz executives of Starbucks (SBUX.O: Quote), Google (GOOG.O: Quote) and Amazon (AMZN.O: Quote) on Monday about how they have managed to pay only small amounts of tax in Britain while racking up billions of dollars worth of sales here.

The Public Accounts Committee (PAC), which is charged with monitoring government financial affairs, has invited the companies to give evidence amid mounting public and political concern about tax avoidance by big international companies.

"It is hard for the ordinary person to believe it's fair," said Margaret Hodge, a member of parliament for the opposition Labour party and chairman of PAC.

"It makes people incredibly angry in the current fiscal climate," she added, in reference to the austerity measures which large budget deficits have forced on the UK, and other countries.

Britain and Germany last week announced plans to push the Group of 20 economic powers to make multinational companies pay their "fair share" of taxes following reports of large firms exploiting loopholes to avoid taxes.

A Reuters report last month showed that Starbucks had paid no corporation, or income, tax in the UK in the past three years.

The world's biggest coffee chain paid only 8.6 million pounds ($13.74 million) in total UK tax over 13 years during which it recorded sales of 3.1 billion pounds.

Campaign group UK Uncut, which is opposed to government austerity measures, and which has organised protests against British telecoms operator Vodafone (VOD.L: Quote) and pharmacist Boots over their tax practices, said in a statement on Monday that they planned to target Starbucks.   Continued...

 
St Paul's Cathedral is pictured behind signage for a Starbucks coffee shop in London October 8, 2012. Picture taken October 8, 2012. REUTERS/Luke Macgregor