At The Observer of course.
The examples are everywhere. In 2011, Google paid just £6m in corporation tax on revenues of £2.5bn in the UK. Its chairman rightly said that they \”comply with the law\”. The problem is that our law has not found a way of adequately taxing companies such as Google. In the meantime, such firms use every conceivable mechanism to avoid paying tax. They then offer a risible justification, such as Schmidt did when he said that Google employs 2,000 people in Britain.
Not good enough. Google employs people – try making money without doing that — and makes billions in the process, but puts practically nothing back into the country from which it harvests £2.5bn annually. Nothing to help finance the education of the next 2,000 employees from this country. Nothing to help maintain the physical infrastructure of a country where it does business. Nothing to help subsidise the cultural riches that make this country an attractive place to live and work. Nothing to help pay for the judicial, legal and police institutions that make the country a safe and civil place to do business.
We as a society – and that includes business behemoths such as Google – have responsibilities to deal fairly with communities with whom we trade. The pioneers of benevolent capitalism recognised their obligations to help build a decent society from which they profited.
They\’re measuring the benefit a company provides by the amount of tax that it pays. Which really is being an ignorant tosser. The value a company provides is in the products that the company provides.
Which would you prefer? No Google and no tax or Google and no tax? Sure, there\’s also Google and tax: but the answer to the first binary choice will tell us that the existence of Google, being able to use it in the UK, whether as a search engine or as an advertising medium, has value.
And that value is substantial: which is why so many people use it.
We can make this simpler: Amazon produces very little tax revenue because Amazon makes, deliberately, very little in the way of profits. The money coming in is reinvested on making the company serve our (perceived) needs in an even better manner. So whatever the tax laws we\’re not going to get any tax revenue out of Amazon, simply because there are no global profits to go demand a slice of.
Excellent: now, what would you prefer? Amazon and no tax or no Amazon and no tax?
Quite, the value to us all of Amazon\’s existence is rather larger than whatever tax is or is not paid.
And we can make this even simpler again. The NHS provides absolutely no corporation tax revenue at all. Yet all would argue that there\’s a value in having the NHS. Thus value to the society must come from something other than the corporation tax paid by that activity.
This whole idea that we should measure contribution to society purely through tax revenue is people being ignorant tossers.