Tax Avoidance

Six out of Britain's 10 biggest firms pay ZERO corporation tax despite ringing up global profits of £30billion



PUBLISHED: 16:07, 31 January 2016 | UPDATED: 17:35, 31 January 2016

At least six of Britain's 10 biggest companies paid no corporation tax in 2014 despite ringing up global profits of more than £30billion, it was claimed today.

An investigation into the firms - which includes household names Shell and Lloyds Banking Group - is set to raise yet more questions about the corporation tax regime in Britain.

Chancellor George Osborne has been underfire after praising a £130million HMRC deal with Google as a 'massive success' - despite it allegedly amounting to taxes of just 3 per cent.

Former chancellor Lord Lawson has called for corporation to be overhauled and instead of taxing profits - which company's are accused of routinely sheltering offshore - instead charging a levy on revenues.

Today's Sunday Times investigation is set to heighten calls for reforms of corporate tax arrangements.

The newspaper said Shell paid no corporation tax in 2014 despite global profits of almost £20 billion.

The way corporation tax is set up means it charges 20 per cent on all profits declared in Britain but a complex series of arrangements can allow transactions to be effectively made overseas.

Lloyds Banking Group said it paid no corporation tax in 2014 after offsetting losses in previous years against a profit of £1.76billion.

Vodafone said it paid no corporation tax in 2014/15, despite making profits of £1.97bn in the year to the end of March 2015.

Also on the zero corporation tax list was British American Tobacco (BAT) - the firm paid corporation taxes in other countries after profiting by £4.55billion in 2014 but none of it was paid in Britain.

It said only a fraction of its revenues were made here and they were swallowed up by staff costs and research./  

Pharmaceutical firm AstraZeneca said it paid no corporation tax in 2014, telling the Sunday Times it made no taxable profits.

BP's four main British subsidiaries showed no corporation tax was paid in the UK and the firm said it did not expect to make payments while the oil price remained far below its recent highs. 

HSBC Group, with profits of £11.3bn worldwide, told the Sunday Times it paid about £160m in UK corporation tax in 2014.

Drinks firm Diageo said its UK corporation tax charge for 2014/15 was £78m.

Yesterday, Lord Lawson told the Telegraph: 'It is profoundly unsatisfactory that corporation tax has to be collected from large multinational corporations by a series of ad hoc compromise deals, as we have once again seen with the Google affair.

'It is also grossly unfair on smaller businesses, who are unable to shift profits between tax jurisdictions and have to pay the full amount due under UK law.'

Google's head of communications Peter Barron told the BBC today the search engine would welcome simpler and more transparent corporate taxes.

Amid an angry storm over Google's tax bill, he said: 'We think the international tax system could do with reform. We would like to see more simplicity and more clarty.

‘We would like to be seen to be paying the right amount.’




Facebook: The social media titan paid just £4,327 in corporation tax in 2014, despite reporting UK revenues of £105million.

Apple: The US-based technology firm behind the iPad and the iPhone made £34billion in profit during the year to September 2014.

Experts estimate that the UK accounted for £1.9billion of that profit, but the firm only paid £11.8million in British corporation tax.

Amazon: The online shopping giant took £5.3billion in sales from British shoppers in 2014 but paid just £11.9million in tax after announcing profits of £34.4million.

Starbucks: The coffee chain paid just £8.6million of tax over 14 years between 1998 and 2012 when sales totalled £3billion.

But latest company filings show it paid £8.1million in corporation tax for last year on profits of £34.2million.

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