Starbucks, Google and Amazon to face UK lawmakers over tax evasion

UK lawmakers will quiz executives of Starbucks, Google and Amazon 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 organized protests against British telecoms operator Vodafone and pharmacist Boots over their tax practices, said in a statement on Monday that they planned to target Starbucks.

Starbucks said it followed the tax rules in every country where it operates and sought to pay its fair share of taxes.

"We are committed to being transparent on this issue and look forward to appearing before this committee," a spokeswoman said.

Starbucks Chief Financial Officer Troy Alstead will give evidence to the committee, as will Matt Brittin, Chief Executive Officer of Google UK, and Andrew Cecil, Brussels-based Director of Public Policy for Amazon, a PAC spokesman said.

... contd.

Please read our terms of use before posting comments
TERMS OF USE: The views expressed in comments published on indianexpress.com are those of the comment writer's alone. They do not represent the views or opinions of The Indian Express Group or its staff. Comments are automatically posted live; however, indianexpress.com reserves the right to take it down at any time. We also reserve the right not to publish comments that are abusive, obscene, inflammatory, derogatory or defamatory.