You\’ve really got to stop listening to Richard Murphy you know, he\’s making you look very foolish.
"Check out the recent report The Missing Billions from tax expert Richard Murphy, for the TUC, who identified £25bn of tax lost from the exchequer. He lists major companies whose tax payments don\’t begin to reflect the size of business and profits they seem to command in Britain. Note the tiny tax paid by BSkyB, Hanson, and Legal & General. It may be legal but that\’s not the point: profitable companies shouldn\’t be able to shuffle assets to pay less tax. Where is the public shame at "socially responsible" companies avoiding the spirit of the law? British stamp-duty payers may gnash their teeth over British Land Plc paying little tax, quite legally, when land values soared. What of easyJet\’s Stelios Haji-Ioannou, who said: "I have no UK income to be taxed in the UK"?
Since Tesco has murmured to other newspapers that it may sue the Guardian, to warn others against following our story – though no writ has arrived – let\’s stress that these low-tax paying habits are all very, very legal, all arranged by highly paid lawyers from highly respected world-beating City law firms. They set the seal on avoidance not just as OK, but as a good or even as a necessary business practice. (Incidentally, humbler Morrisons pays proportionately much more tax than Tesco). Vince Cable, the Liberal Democrat shadow chancellor, looking down this list of underpaying companies, is now asking why. "
Tesco\’s effective tax rate last year was 20% when the headline tax rate is 30%. This is what is used as clear evidence that tax avoidance is going on.
The Guardian Media Group\’s effective tax rate last year (please, go and look up your own accounts to check this) was 16% calculated the same way.
So who are the tax avoiding spivs now?
This is the problem with using Murphy\’s figures: he starts from such wildly unrealistic assumptions that by the time we get to his conclusions, you, the guardians of all that is left liberal and holy, are, well, to use your own words, Murphy is
"branding us spivs, swindlers, cheats and cads."
I can\’t help thinking that this is something of an own goal really.