Tax avoidance and multinational corporations have featured prominently in the news in recent weeks.
We have seen the likes of Google and Starbucks being called to appear before the Public Accounts Committee to explain their tax practices, Prime Minister David Cameron talking about the need for global action against tax evasion and aggressive tax avoidance, and even Leader of the Opposition Ed Miliband, saying that he would rewrite the corporate tax rules (why? Doesn’t he think the new GARR will do the trick?).
Perhaps the phrase which best sums up the view of those who consider these companies to be engaging in suspect tax planning is that of Margaret Hodge, who chairs the Public Accounts Committee:
“We’re not accusing you of being illegal, we’re accusing you of being immoral”
Now it is all very well to have these debates about how and why these multinationals manage to minimise their tax bills. But what concerns me is that, reading the various press reports, it is never clear just what exactly the company involved has done that is so immoral. And if we don’t know what this is, how can we have a debate about it? Continue reading »