This is interesting about Amazon

I wonder how much it will actually change?

Amazon has become the first technology company to abandon controversial corporate structures that divert sales and profits away from UK in the face of a clampdown imposed by George Osborne.

From the start of this month the online retailer has started booking its sales through the UK, meaning resulting profits will be taxed by HMRC. The group made $8.3bn (£5.3bn) of worldwide sales from British online shoppers but for 11 years all these internet transactions have been booked in Luxembourg.

A spokesman said Amazon was “now recording retail sales made to customers in the UK through the UK branch. Previously, these sales were recorded in Luxembourg”.

Being the cynic that I am I can’t see it increasing their tax bill very much. On the grounds that if it had they wouldn’t be doing it.

The company said: “We regularly review our business structure to ensure that we are able to best serve our customers and provide additional product and services. More than two years ago we began the process of establishing local country branches of Amazon EU Sarl, our primary retail operating company in Europe.”

Sales are still being recorded by Amazon EU Sarl, a Luxembourg-registered company, but – crucially for tax purposes – will be booked in a UK branch of that company, for which a tax return must be filed with HMRC.

Yesd, but there will still be an entirely righteous royalty payment to be made from the UK company to the main, or Luxembourg or wherever, for the platform, the brand and so on. Something which, as long as it goes intra-EU, is not taxable in the UK.

5, 7%, wouldn’t seem out of order there. And I doubt their net margins are that high. I can imagine (but obviously don’t know) that this will make sod all difference. Which will be interesting in a year or two when we see their accounts and tax bill. Because if it doesn’t make much difference then Margaret and Ritchie and all will be shown to have been blowing smoke all these years.

A tecnial question: does bnooking the sales through a branch really have the same effects as the sales being by a UK co? Or is there some wriggle room there on things like royalties etc?

Anyone care to define extremist?

Britain’s broadcast regulator should vet programmes for extremist content before they are shown on television, David Cameron has indicated.

The Prime Minister appeared to back Theresa May over her Cabinet colleague Sajid Javid after a private row over anti-terror proposals became public.

And don’t forget, at some point the other bastards will be in and we’ll have to put up with whatever their definition of “extremist” is.

You know, homophobic, cisgendered extremism and the like. Zionism would certainly be regarded sa extremism by some.

Bad, bad idea

Well, that’s us told then

How many liberals and progressives have heard this? It’s ridiculously common. Hell, even David Koch of the Koch Brothers has said, “I’m a conservative on economic matters and I’m a social liberal.”

And it’s wrong. W-R-O-N-G Wrong.

You can’t separate fiscal issues from social issues. They’re deeply intertwined. They affect each other. Economic issues often are social issues. And conservative fiscal policies do enormous social harm. That’s true even for the mildest, most generous version of “fiscal conservatism” — low taxes, small government, reduced regulation, a free market. These policies perpetuate human rights abuses. They make life harder for people who already have hard lives. Even if the people supporting these policies don’t intend this, the policies are racist, sexist, classist (obviously), ableist, homophobic, transphobic, and otherwise socially retrograde.

Apparently, my support for markets as a method of allocation over government means that I hate you because you had your dick cut off (or built, if that’s the way the trans went).

Hmm, we’ll file that under “ideas people give up by the time they leave Mother’s basement” shall we?

Ritchie on the economics of the EU


The trouble with these theories of labour and capital is that, like so many things that work in economics textbooks, they have not translated to reality. In the case of capital that’s because economists have almost never taken note of tax havens, regulatory arbitrage, tax or tax abuse when they come to proffer their idealistic vision of free markets. The truth has been that instead of capital flowing to the places that could make best use of it for productive purposes a significant number of EU states, including Luxembourg, Ireland, Cyprus, Malta, the Netherlands and the UK and its tax havens (which for these purposes count as part of the EU) have put in place measures to designed to attract capital on the basis of the higher market returns that can be obtained from market and tax abuse hidden behind the secrecy that they have been willing to offer. The result has been dysfunctional markets, the growth of a rentier economy, a reduction in investment in productive capital and lost growth at the cost of a parasitical financial services industry. Far from dragging states upwards a race to the bottom has ensued.

You know, economists did actually did actually consider these things. And Bolkestein deliberately set up the taxation system for corporations as he did. Because corporation tax is a bad way to collect tax: thus let’s compete it away.

That’s quite aside from the lunacy of thinking that money that passes through tax havens stays there. It’s still invested in the real economies of those real countries: just without paying some of the corporate tax. As it was intended should be done. And as is beneficial for the economy as a whole of course.

In the case of labour economists forgot, yet again, a number of quite important factors. The first is the reluctance of many people to move: such things as social ties never occurred to the economists who promoted the theories that underpin the single market, and nor did they exist in their idealistic calculations. Nor, since many of these theories were promoted before the growth of the welfare state, did those free market theories take into account the fundamental changes in wage pressures that this has created, with resulting significant differences in the labour markets of each member state. The inevitable consequence is that these unanticipated, but entirely predictable ( even in the 1950s) factors were ignored in the design of the EU and this failure has been perpetuated over decades with the consequence that flows of labour are nowhere near as free as economists assumed, social security systems have on occasion been abused and, most important of all, labour market freedoms designed to prevent wage inflation have in fact been used to force real wages to be stagnant when economies as a whole have been growing. In other words, the race to the bottom has, once again, been the outcome.

Economists don’t consider social ties and their influence upon migration? This bloke been at the wife’s drugs cabinet down the surgery?

Those states who abuse tax systems, including the UK with its low rates, refusal to tax corporate income from outside our country and blind eye failure to even collect tax returns from companies incorporated here that claim they trade elsewhere so that the countries where they really owe tax can collect no data on their activities, have to be prevented from perpetuating their abuse. If this means suspension of the free market whilst they put reforms in place, so be it.

And those countries that wish to protect their populations by providing a sensible and appropriate safety net for those in need must be allowed to do so with out being abused by other states refusal to provide the same protection for their own populations.

Unless these fundamental, and systemic, flaws in the design of the EU are addressed it cannot achieve the objective of delivering real economic growth and increasing prosperity to those who live within it. In that case it’s purpose for existence has to be questioned.

Pitching for a job with the European Greens now, is he?

Polly and hyperbole

The only reason Osborne is putting his foot on the accelerator is because he wants to and because he can. Who’s going to stop him now? This is a dash to shrink the state, squeeze everything, contract out what can’t be cut and return, as his own Office for Budget Responsibility said, to a prewar, pre-welfare state, bare-bones government.

The cuts would return us to 35% of so of GDP flowing through government. About what we had in 1999 and 2000, under Gordon Brown. Pre-WWII would be more like 25% of GDP (before rearmament at least).

Polly’s relationship with facts is somewhat tenuous, yes?


Any great singers you wish you’d have worked with? Could you have worked with Elvis Presley, for example?
I doubt it, although he did record Any Day Now, and that’s one of those things where you think, “Great!”, and you hear it and it’s not so great. It was the same thing with Sinatra and the Count Basie band, with Quincy Jones producing. They did Wives and Lovers, which is in 3/4 time, but they did it in 4/4. I said, “Quincy, what happened?” He said: “The Basie band can’t play in 3/4.”

Burt Bacharach.

And Guardian subs please report for a retraining session. One involving smacked botties:

(4) Burt was married to Paula Stewart (1953-58), Angie Dickinson (1965-80), Carole Bayer Sager (1982-91) and has been married to Jane Hansen since 1983.

Accusing someone of bigamy in public?

Don’t see why not

Obviously, as a lapsed Roman not for me to determine the theorlogy of the CoE but this seems entirely reasonable:

The Church of England is to debate plans to introduce a ceremony akin to a baptism to mark the new identities of Christians who undergo gender transition.

The Rev Chris Newlands, the vicar of Lancaster Priory, has proposed a motion to the General Synod to debate the issue, after he was approached by a young transgender person seeking to be “re-baptised” in his new identity.

I may have the theology a little wrong here but I don’t actually know of anything that argues that you cannot be baptised more than once. Certainly, I was baptised twice (once immediately at birth, very poorly chap I was, then once again more formally later) and as I say, I don’t know of anything in Canon Law to say that it can’t happen again and again.

Don’t forget, baptism and christening are not the same thing. One is the blessing of the soul (and in Roman, the eradication/forgiveness of original sin?), the other the provision of the name.

Obviously, this being this blog there are readers who know all of this in far more detail than I do. So, am I about right?

So now we’ve an idiot as a Minister

George Freeman, the life sciences minister, said that food companies should be aware that if they continued to produce food that could lead to poor lifestyles and ill health they would be penalised.

Mr Freeman is the first minister to back a sugar tax. Last year, Jeremy Hunt, the Health Secretary, ruled out the measure, saying the Government was looking at other ways to encourage people to eat more healthily.

Mr Freeman told an audience at the Hay Festival that it was clear that sugary drinks and snacks were behind the worsening obesity epidemic in Britain. “I don’t think heavy-handed legislation is the way to go,” he said.

“But I think that where there is a commercial product which confers costs on all of us as a society, as in sugar, and where we can clearly show that the use of that leads to huge pressures on social costs, then we could be looking at recouping some of that through taxation.

“Companies should know that if you insist on selling those products, we will tax them.”

But it’s not clear that it’s sugary drinks and snacks. In fact it’s clear that it isn’t. I’s oless exercise, not more calories, that’s making all into lardbuckets.

Pretty shallow, that pool of talent on the Tory benches, isn’t it?

Baccy companies to sue

Tobacco companies are preparing to launch what could be one of the biggest ever legal claims against the British Government for losses as a result of the introduction of plain packaging for cigarettes.

They are expected to begin lodging papers at the High Court as early as Friday, seeking a multi-billion compensation payout for being stripped of the right to use instantly recognisable brands.

Lawyers will argue that forcing them to use entirely unbranded packaging would amount to deprivation of a highly valuable intellectual property.

And here’s the interesting thing. They’re not using any of the ISDS routines written into trade law. Just an old fashioned approach to the old fashioned courts.

Perhaps we should have a competition with bonus points for the spotting of outraged articles that manage to miss this? Doulble points of course for people wo argue that this is a reason not to have ISDS in trade deals. When, of course, it means the opposite. If this is a right that investors here get through our own courts, not the ISDS, then that the ISDS extends such rights to people in places where the courts aren’t trustworthy is a good, not bad, idea.

Note that I’m not saying that either the claim, the idea of such a claim, nor this case, are good or bad ideas: only on the sturcture here.

Yep, still looking

I am sorry that Margaret Hodge has announced that she has no plan to seek the chair’s role on the Public Accounts Committee during the course of this parliament. Equally I am unsurprised; she had made it pretty clear to me how unlikely it was that she would do so several months ago.

If we had an Office for Tax Responsibility answerable to the PAC we’d have a lasting legacy to her work.

If he’d not pissed off everyone at the TJN he’d be getting £40k a year of course. Although he’d have to pay tax on it, as we’re not quite sure whether he did with that £35k a year from the JRF.

Ritchie’s still looking for a job then

I agree, although I think Jolyon’s suggested remit is too narrow and shows his legal background. I would include the need for a thorough review of the governance of HMRC in the brief. As I have said before, and will say again, it is absurd that HMRC’s board is made up from the large business community and its advisers, who between them represent about 700 tax payers when there are 31 million income tax payers alone in the UK.

It is also absurd that parliament has almost no resources available to it to scrutinise HMRC. Margaret Hodge may have done well, but it was despite the National Audit Office and not because of them. Indeed, the NAO fought long and hard to deny information on HMRC to the PAC. That is wholly unacceptable and must change. It is why I suggest that there should be an Office for Tax Responsibility reporting straight to the PAC that can properly audit HMRC and tax policy.

Third, any review should look at the resourcing of HMRC.

And last, in any such review rather more than the interests of big business and the tax profession must be represented or this will look like a stitch up and that is the very last thing that is needed now.

Unless, of course, such a review team is unpaid. But that’s what the call for resources is about, no?

People who get elected must not be allowed to govern

How’s this for the Curajus State:

A former investment banker is considering a bid to lead the Treasury select committee, promising to end “banker-bashing” and to protect indebted households as the economy recovers.

Mark Garnier, a former associate director at Bear Stearns and then a hedge fund manager, is testing whether he has enough support to run against Andrew Tyrie, who has led the cross-party committee for the past five years. He will formally announce his candidature if enough MPs back him.

You couldn’t make its brazenness up.

I guess that and the sheer effrontery of Garnier’s belief that this might be acceptable is what makes this so repugnant.

So, people who actually win election aren’t allowed to take part in governance then? If they don’t have the right views that is…..

So, err, denying you raped someone is libel now?

The model Janice Dickinson has sued Bill Cosby for defamation over denials made by the comedian’s representatives after she accused him of raping her in 1982.

“Cosby knows that he drugged and raped Ms Dickinson,” the lawsuit states. “He knew that calling her rape disclosure a lie was a false statement.”

That’s an interesting legal advance, isn’t it?

“You raped me!”

“No, I didn’t”



Well, yes, this is what happens you see?

Documents show the extent of BP’s influence on government policy and how their intimate relationship is at odds with UK commitments to reduce carbon emissions

The British government did used to own BP you see….and that’s what happens when you’ve got government ownership of a commercial corporation. Government starts to be involved in the commercial corporation. Vide, say, Gazprom and the Russian government. Aramco and the Saudi.

Imagine how much more there would be if BP were still owned by the government?

Thousands of gallons

Is hundreds of barrels:

California authorities scrambled on Wednesday to contain an oil slick and clean up tourist beaches after a pipeline rupture dumped thousands of gallons of oil into the ocean.

A day after the spill near Santa Barbara, northwest of Los Angeles, Jennifer Williams, US Coast Guard spokeswoman, said helicopter overflights had shown the slick stretched some nine miles along the Pacific Ocean coast.

As green groups warned of the possible longer-term impact, teams of white-clad workers used rakes and hands to scoop up oil strewn on the sand on Refugio Beach, where a camp site was evacuated.

The spill was estimated at up to 105,000 gallons (400,000 litres), of which some 21,000 gallons of crude oil may have entered the ocean, according to an official update Wednesday afternoon.

All most distressing, no doubt. But this sort of spill isn’t exactly unknown as a natural phenomenon. there really are seeps and fissures that dribble this sort of amount out entirely naturally. And bacteria that eat thos sort of stuff too.

I’m not saying that it’s a good idea it’s happened to feed those lovely microbes: onloy that it’s the sort of thing that won’t make any damn difference at all after a few months.


A leading concert pianist has won the right to publish a harrowing account of extreme sexual abuse at his prep school as Britain’s highest court decisively rejected the idea that fear of causing distress or offence to others should be allowed to limit free speech.

That has really a rather large knock on effect over those offended by microaggressions and on Twitter etc, doesn’t it? Even on the critiquing of certain religions….

They added: “It is difficult to envisage any circumstances in which speech which is not deceptive, threatening or possibly abusive, could give rise to liability in tort for wilful infringement of another’s right to personal safety.”

Hurrah….libel, incitement to violence and that’s yer lot on limiting free speech.