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Starbucks may change UK tax practices

Monday, Dec 03, 2012 - 02:14

Dec. 3 - A committee of UK lawmakers has called on government to crack down on multinational companies and wealthy individuals who avoid paying taxes in Britain but pay little tax here, echoing demands from leaders across Europe for measures to tackle corporate tax avoidance. Joanna Partridge reports.

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Under fire from politicians, campaigners and consumers Starbucks has conceded - it's looking into changing its UK tax practices. They'd allowed the coffee chain to make billions in revenue - legally - while paying next to nothing in UK tax. A Reuters investigation led to protests and calls for a boycott. SOUNDBITE: STARBUCKS CHIEF FINANCIAL OFFICER, TROY ALSTEAD SAYING (English): "We have no tax havens in any of Bermuda, or Cayman or anywhere else around the world." And Starbucks and other multinationals like Amazon and Google were questioned by UK lawmakers. After admitting his deficit reduction plan won't meet its target Finance Minister George Osborne is keen to recoup every penny he can. SOUNDBITE: British Finance Minister, George Osborne, saying (English): "It is not right that wealthy people or multinational companies avoid the taxes that are due." A new parliamentary report has criticised the UK's tax authorities for not tackling the issue aggressively enough. Margaret Hodge chairs the Public Accounts Committee. SOUNDBITE: Margaret Hodge, Chair of Public Accounts Committee, saying (English): "When times are hard and ordinary families are struggling to pay their tax bills and meet their other bills, and small companies are being harrassed by the tax authorities to pay their tax, it is just not fair." Morag Watkins and Sheryl Shurville are among a growing number of retailers seeking a level playing field. They run two independent book shops. SOUNDBITE: Morag Watkins, Co-Owner The Chorleywood Bookshop, saying (English): "We want our customers to know that we pay tax and contribute towards the British economy in the way that small businesses all do in this country, and people have a choice about where they spent their money, they don't have to spent it with the big boys online, they can spend it with small people with personal service." PTC: Even in times of austerity, some consumers are putting principle before price. As Christmas approaches, some shoppers say they'd rather support small, independent stores than buy online. SOUNDBITE: Adele Deanus, Shopper, saying (English): "I've stopped buying stuff from Amazon completely, so I haven't touched it this year." SOUNDBITE: Caron Calder, Shopper, saying (English): "When you google something, you might not find not necessarily find exactly what you're looking for, but they tend to know what you're after in here." These days Europe's cash-strapped consumers are far more savvy about where they spend It seems even the likes of Starbucks can't afford to ignore that.

Starbucks may change UK tax practices

Monday, Dec 03, 2012 - 02:14

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