June 16, 2021 1:21 pm Published by Leave your thoughts

PART THREE – The Price of Knowing

Article by Beth Porter

Chapter Six – Fair Tax or No Tax?

Rupert Neate is billed by the Guardian as its wealth correspondent, covering the super rich and inequality. So no apologies for quoting his 31 May article highlighting UK Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s future planning on tax declarations.

“The giant US tech firms known as the “Silicon Six” have been accused of inflating their stated tax payments by almost $100bn (£70bn) over the past decade.

“As Chancellor Rishi Sunak called on world leaders to back a new tech tax ahead of next week’s G7 summit in the UK, a report by the campaign group Fair Tax Foundation singled out Amazon, Facebook, Google’s owner, Alphabet, Netflix, Apple and Microsoft.

“It said they paid $96bn less in tax between 2011 and 2020 than the notional taxation figures they cite in their annual financial reports.

“The six firms named handed over $149bn less to global tax authorities than would be expected if they had the paid headline rates where they operated, Fair Tax Foundation said.”

Neate followed with the revelation on 3 June that although Microsoft’s Irish subsidiary made a profit of $315bn (£222bn) last year, it paid no corporation tax as it is “resident” for tax purposes in Bermuda. Further, it has no registered employees, its sole purpose being to manage license fees for Microsoft’s copyrighted materials.

I have not been invited to attend the G7, paid or unpaid. But I suspect that FAANG [as Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix and Google are collectively known] won’t be declaring their own tax positions.

Yet, in what’s claimed as “an historic move,” Sunak announced on 5 June that all FAANGs finance ministers agreed a framework of tax reform, further details to follow. Multinationals pledged to pay tax of at least 15% in each country in which they operate.

Sunak’s direct influence at the forthcoming G27 COP will radiate through its agenda, which may directly reference a benefit to the UK in releasing funding for the NHS. Gee, it’s almost as though he’d planned it!

In the context of playing long games with deception, the Chancellor’s combo of serious affability presages a healthy further career. Among Tories and tipsters he’s frequently been tipped as the next UK Prime Minister.

The Conservative Party has always promoted itself as a bastion of fiscal responsibility, openly deriding every chance it gets to brand Labour as its ‘tax and spend’ opposition. Fact checkers may point out it’s actually the Tories who consistently put up taxes, twisting themselves into pretzels as justification, claiming ‘it’s the right thing to do’.

Just this Tuesday morning former Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt tried to sound credible in his interview with Justin Webb on Radio 4 about the twin crises of low morale among medical front-liners and a long-delayed review of social care within the current system.

No surprise at Hunt’s vacuous pronouncements of little substance, including how long it takes to train doctors and nurses… well, duh! But why was Webb avoiding the key question: when Hunt refers to reforming the Health Department and Social Care services, does that entail their privitisation?

Because if I’m aware of Hunt’s secret report to do just that [as presented to then Prime Minister David Cameron and then Home Secretary Theresa May], then either Webb is ignorant of its existence, or he and fellow broadcasters are mandated not to probe such dusty corners.

Which, at last, brings me to my promise about the lies, half-truths, and distortions of the truth flung at me from representatives of HMRC in a court of law.

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