Daily Archives: December 3, 2010


Press release: Nationwide Day of Tax Avoidance Protest Tomorrow

email: ukuncut@gmail.com
twitter: @ukuncut #ukuncut
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www.ukuncut.org
For Immediate Release

NATIONWIDE DAY OF TAX AVOIDANCE PROTEST TOMORROW

  • Day of action this tomorrow will include Sir Philip Green beside Vodafone and other corporations as the focus of public anger
  • 16 different towns and cities have so far organised actions
  • UK Uncut launches ‘Big Society Revenue and Customs’

Amid growing public anger over the cuts, protests over tax avoidance by big business and wealthy individuals are going to hit high streets up and down the country tomorrow.

Under the banner of ‘UK Uncut’ [1], 16 different towns and cities have so far announced actions that are expect to target a variety of corporations accused of high levels of tax avoidance, such as Boots, HSBC, Barclays and Vodafone [2].

It emerged in the Guardian on Tuesday [3] however that tomorrow’s principle target will be Sir Philip Green and his fashion empire – Arcadia – which spreads across 2,500 UK stores and includes top brands such as Topshop, Miss Selfridge and Dorothy Perkins[4].

Green’s empire Acardia is owned by Taveta Investments Limited – a holding company registered to a small office on the tax-haven island of Jersey [5].

Sir Philip Green is not however the official owner of Taveta Investments. Instead, the owners are his wife and immediate family, who reside in Monaco[6].

Monaco is of course famous for its 0% income tax. As a result, when Sir Philip Green – the 9th richest man in the UK with wealth estimated at £4.4bn in 2008 [7] – in 2005 made the largest single dividend payout in UK corporate history to his wife of £1.2bn, he avoided paying a reported £285million in tax to the British public purse[8].

Amid criticism from key MPs, Sir Philip Green was also asked by the coalition government this year to advise them on austerity and cuts within the civil service [9].

Daniel Garvin, 26, said “Philip Green is a multi-billionaire tax avoider, and yet is regarded by David Cameron as an appropriate man to advise the government on austerity. His missing millions need to be reclaimed and invested into public services, not into his wife’s bank account.”

Tomorrow will also the launch of the ‘Big Society Revenue and Customs’ (BSRC)by UK Uncut [10], following the announcement that HM Revenue and Customs faces thousands of job cuts following a 15% cut in its budget [11].

Commenting on the launch of BSRC, Daniel Garvin said: “David Cameron wants ordinary people in their spare time to carry out vital state run services that have been cut, so this is exactly what we’re doing. If HMRC won’t chase down tax avoiders, then we will.”

Tomorrow’s protests are expected to be just the first in a series of actions against Philip Green and other corporations by the BSRC across the Christmas period.

The form of the different protests has not been prescribed, but previous protests against the communications giant, Vodafone, last month resulted in over 30 of its stores being closed by ordinary people who blockaded and picketed its entrances to stop trading [12].

Those protests were sparked after the corporation reached a ‘settlement’ on a long standing tax dispute with HMRC earlier this year, following the change in government. Some experts believe the deal meant that Vodafone saved up to £6bn in tax [13].

On Saturday 30th of October all three Vodafone Stores were closed for the day on Oxford Street, London. Tomorrow, protesters are being asked to meet at 11:00am inside the Topshop – the largest fashion store in the world – on Oxford street, to start the demonstration..
 
Rebecca Davies, 32, said: “The cuts will hit the poorest and most vulnerable in our society the hardest are based on ideology, not necessity. There is an alternative.”

“The tax gap in the UK is an estimated £120bn [14], £25 billion of this down to tax avoidance by extremely wealthy individuals and big business [15], while the government is barely lifting a finger to stop it.”
 
Looking ahead to the weekend she continued, “Tomorrow, and across the Christmas period, ordinary people around Britain will stand up to show that we will not let these unnecessary cuts happen without a fight.”

ENDS
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For further comment:
UK Uncut: | ukuncut@gmail.com |
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Notes to Editor:

[1] Details can be seen on the website www.ukuncut.org

[2] http://ukuncut.org/actions  Has all the details of the actions around the country.

[3] http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/nov/29/philip-green-protest-alleged-tax-avoidance

[4] http://www.arcadiagroup.co.uk/about/index.html  Arcadia also own, Burton, Wallis, Evans and Topman.

[5] http://www.arcadiagroup.co.uk/about/index.html
And the office in jersey was shown by Channel 4’s Dispatches broadcast on Monday 18th October.
http://www.channel4.com/programmes/dispatches/episode-guide/series-72/episode-1

[6] http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2004/nov/03/money

[7] The Sunday Times Richlist from 2008: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sunday_Times_Rich_List_2008

[8] http://www.taxresearch.org.uk/Blog/2010/08/13/sir-philip-green-the-wrong-man-to-head-a-review-of-public-spending/
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/analysis-and-features/analysis-the-rich-get-richer-in-poor-old-britain-470417.html
This independent article states: when Sir Philip Green paid his divident he financed it by taking out a loan. Although this is a common form of financial engineering in privately owned companies, it had the benefit of cutting Arcadia’s corporation tax bill, as the interest charges on the loan could be offset against profits. In this way, wealth was simply being redistributed from taxpayers to Mr Green’s family.

[9] http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2010/aug/13/philip-green-eficiency-savings
http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2010/aug/19/philip-green-liberal-democrats-tax

[10] Please see www.ukuncut.org for a full explanation on the thinking behind the BSRC.The BSRC logo is also available to download on the website.

[11] http://www.accountancymagazine.com/croner/jsp/Editorial.do?channelId=-305535&contentId=1707614

[12] Please see www.ukuncut.org for details

[13] The original investigation was completed by Richard Brookes, a tax inspector, at Private-Eye, but has since been written about by other journalists.
http://www.private-eye.co.uk/sections.php?section_link=in_the_back
http://www.thisismoney.co.uk/news/article.html?in_article_id=514832&in_page_id=2
http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2010/nov/14/vodafone-tax-evasion-revenue-customs

[14] Richard Murphy, a long standing and respected campaigner on the issue of tax justice has produced a report stating that £120bn is the tax gap to britain.http://www.publicfinance.co.uk/features/2010/10/there-is-an-alternative/

[15] Richard Murphy, a long standing and respected campaigner on the issue of tax-avoidance has produced a report stating that 25bn is lost to the public purse by tax avoidance. £13bn through individuals. £12bn through large corporations.
http://www.tuc.org.uk/touchstone/Missingbillions/1missingbillions.pdf


Why we and the students are fighting the same battle

On Monday, the
students from the incredible UCL occupation organised in less than 24 hours and
descended on Topshop Oxford Street, the heart of tax-dodger Sir Philip Green’s
retail empire. They occupied a door, blockaded a pavement and refused to move
even when security guards told them that Sir Phil wanted them off his property.
Their slogan was: “You marketise our education, and we’ll educate your market.”

The next morning, UK
Uncut announced the new target for this Saturday’s day of action was… Sir
Philip Green. We’d like to pretend this link up was the result of calculated
strategic co-ordination between us and the UCL crew. It wasn’t. It was a happy
coincidence.

But it was a
coincidence that draws attention to a useful point, made eloquently by the UCL
occupiers: the fight against tax avoiders is the same fight as the fight
against fees and cuts.

Tackling rich tax
avoiders was one of the Lib Dems’ four key election pledges, right alongside opposing
tuition fee hikes. Both have been broken. This coalition has let Vodafone off a
£6bn tax bill and appointed serial tax avoider Sir Philip Green to advise the
government on cuts. Sir Philip’s £285m tax dodge could pay the fees of 32,000
students. The money Vodafone were let off would cover every single cut to
higher education many times over.

But this is not just
an issue of fees, it’s an issue of solidarity. The students have done a damn
good job of articulating their link to the wider anti-cuts movement. The issue
of tax avoidance is a way that we can forge those links on the street.
Pensioners, unemployed, those on incapacity benefit, public service workers,
unionists and others have all joined UK Uncut actions around the country.
Sitting together in shop doorways, blockading the high street stores of the tax
avoiding rich, we can build the sort of networks necessary to build this movement
beyond a single issue and bring down this government.

Whilst inflicting
savage public spending cuts on the poor and indulging the rich, this government
likes to claim that ‘we are all in this together.’ All we need to remember, is
that if the government reclaimed the £25bn tax avoided by rich individuals and
corporations every year, it could pay for all
of the services the government is planning to cut.

This Saturday the
students
will be joining a growing coalition to take on
tax avoiders. Let’s join together, let’s go on the offensive, let’s take this
to the high streets.