While doing press work over the past three months we have noticed that journalists never ask us for any response on what the companies we have targeted have said in response to our protests.
So, we offer them here…
What we said: “Philip Green sits on a personal wealth of some £4bn and yet has registered his business into his wife’s name, who lives in the tax-haven of Monaco. Therefore, in 2005, when he paid himself a whopping dividend of £1.2bn he managed to avoid £285m in tax. Despite this, David Cameron seems to think he is an appropriate man to advise the government on austerity.”
What he said: No comment
What he said earlier in 2010: “I employ 45,000 people and have paid tens and tens of millions of pounds of tax over the past five years”
What we say: “Philip Green does not employ people out of a philanthropic intent. He employs people to make him money. As soon as he thinks that an employee is returning him less profit than it costs him, they will be fired. Plus, you cannot dominate a market, by taking over brands or by destroying independent retailers and then have the cheek to highlight how many people you employ and how much tax you pay. Those employees and tax contributions would have just belonged to someone else. Nor have we ever said he pays no tax, we have said that he tries to minimise his tax bill. That still stands. Why does Philip Green think that £285m is better in his wife’s bank account than in public services?
What we said: “Vodafone have managed to get away with paying £6bn in tax after ‘settling’ with HMRC after a decade long disupte.
What they said: “We pay all the tax that we are required to in Britain, we do not owe any tax, and the £6bn figure is an ‘urban myth’.
What we say: “Vodafone do indeed pay all the tax that they are ‘required’ to. To do otherwise would be to evade tax. We have accused Vodafone of tax avoidance. You can be a tax avoider and still say that you pay the tax that you are ‘required’ to. It is also technically true that Vodafone does not owe HMRC anything because they reached a ‘settlement’, where the money that was once owed has since been wiped off. We are saying that it should not have been wiped and Vodafone should pay it.
As for the £6bn figure being an “urban myth”. Richard Brookes who wrote the Private Eye investigation that came up with the £6bn figure used to be a senior HMRC corporate tax inspector and knew the case well. While Tesco took legal action over the Guardian’s wrongful accusations of a £1bn tax dodge, Vodafone have not made any attempts to get the Private-eye investigation removed, despite the fact that it has sparked protests that are clearly impacting on their business. Vodafone have not provided any actual evidence of the deal made with HMRC. We absolutely welcome full tax transparency for corporations, just like ordinary people. Unsurprisingly, corporations and their accountants do not support transparency. Until actual evidence is provided to support saying the £6bn figure is wrong, the protests will continue.
What we said: “Boots Alliance, the owners of Boots have registered the company to a postbox in Switzerland. As a result they pay about 3% tax, therefore managing to avoid up to £100m in tax per year.”
What they said: [we have moved to Switzerland because] “in the longer term we believe it will better reflect the increasingly international nature of our wider group…Boots has contributed to the UK’s finances through increased business rates and national insurance contributions resulting from the expansion of the brand.
What we say: Apologies, we didn’t realise that postboxs were a leading light in international business and language. We have never said Boots contributes absolutely nothing to the public purse, but Boots cannot deny that it is trying to minimise the contributions it makes to this country at a time when we face the deepest cuts since 1919. That is of course despite the fact that the Boots brand was built off the back of a century and a half of British labour and services. Boots pay 3% tax, which is probably less than the office and in-store cleaners pay out of their wages.