The Starbucks tax mystifying conundrum and UK tax obviousness

These are the questions I’ve been asking myself during during the recent UK press furore about taxation, Starbucks and Amazon, etc.

– Starbucks and Amazon are obeying the law – is this not obvious? It’s EU law that has to be changed. How many campaigning journalists pay more tax than they are obliged to?

– Costas were lauded, as were John Lewis, for paying lots of tax in the UK. Why did they do this? Surely they would have been better off doing what their competition did? So why didn’t they? If I were the CEO, I’d be saying to the CFO, ‘thanks for helping us avoid the bad PR, but how come we paid so much in the first place?’

– I find it suspicious that Starbucks claim to have made a loss for so long in the UK. No US, shareholder driven, ‘we pretend to love our customers but we are actually a brutal US corporation driven by quarterly numbers’ would put up with these figures. I’ve not seen an explanation for this, the conclusion one naturally draws is less than positive…

Most importantly –

– Why does anyone go to Starbucks or Costas or any of these places, to buy takeaway drinks anyway? I can understand why you would visit a cafe, sit down and enjoy the ambience, while away the time or drink something you really couldn’t get elsewhere. I can’t understand why you would pay a fortune to buy tea or coffee ‘to go’. If you really liked tea or coffee and were not a millionaire, surely you would make it at home or at the office and use better ingredients you’d like for a fiftieth of the price? It’s the equivalent of popping to your local pub every night to buy a tot of premium whisky and walking home with it instead of keeping a bottle on the sideboard and enjoying it in your living room, at your own convenience for nowhere near the same price. It’s idiotic.

On a side note –

– Can the government please make it easy to contribute to National Insurance if you are an expat? There are hundred of thousands of non-resident Brits who would happily pay into their ‘pot’ if it were not a bureaucratic nightmare. I have a National Insurance number. Let me pay into it. Without having to write to HMRC for a letter telling me how much I have paid, then call them back telling them how much I have paid, then providing more info they already have on who I worked for and how much I paid, after which they present me with a baffling array of options with no explanation of how I can pay or what I get back.

Stop whingeing about tax avoidance when there are plenty of people who would probably contribute if you made it easy!

– Can the government provide a simple scheme for expats where people voluntarily pay ‘tax’? Hire someone who gets people to donate to charity and stir up some patriotism. There are 100,000+ expats in Dubai. Get us all to pay ten quid a month and get twelve million a year out of us. Most of us pay more than that to charity muggers who grabbed us on Oxford St ten years ago and whose direct debit we’ve forgotten about.

– When I had no money and lived in England, I resented paying the BBC licence fee. I was an idiot. Let me pay it by direct debit now, from abroad and charge me extra and give me ‘iPlayer Abroad’. Give me a way to access the BBC, legally and pay for it.

Stop whingeing, stop being insular and start being creative. And stop blaming businesses that employ thousands of people for following the rules they were given to follow.

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2 Responses to “The Starbucks tax mystifying conundrum and UK tax obviousness”

  1. Gary Ward Says:

    I totally agree with your comments about tax avoidance. Brown started deliberately confusing the terms tax avoidance (not illegal) and tax evasion (illegal), hoping the electorate wouldn’t notice. Cameron has continued doing this. In a British High Court ruling 80 years ago, the judgement was that tax avoidance is neither illegal nor immoral. Cameron is ignoring and flouting this ruling, and using blackmail and mob rule. This is a despicable way to govern. Why doesn’t Cameron challenge this ruling? Two seconds’ thought will tell you why not. Finally, if you want to know what happens to a country when its leader starts selectively ignoring that country’s laws, look at European history from 1933 to 1945.

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