The Mail Is Dismally Ignorant Of Corporation Tax

The Mail on Sunday tells us that some alarming number of companies in the FTSE100 aren’t in fact paying tax in the UK. Which does seem a little odd until you realise who it is that they’re complaining about. Companies that are listed in the FTSE100, by the definition they’re using of course, but which aren’t in fact British companies. At least that’s true of some of those they complain about. The others are people who had big losses in the past and so don’t owe any tax as yet.

But no matter, we get two comments from the usual rentaquotes which makes up for it all, doesn’t it?

Here’s the listing:

An outrage I tell ‘ee, an outrage

Antofagasta doesn’t do business in the UK, doesn’t actually do anything in the UK. The shares are on the London Stock exchange and that’s it. The copper mines are in Chile – which is where all the tax is paid. Randgold isn’t even a British company, it’s registered in the Channel Islands. The mines are all in S Africa, Fresnillo is all in Mexico. Where they should be paying tax and where they are.

Seriously, you don’t have to be a UK company to be listed on the LSE. You don’t need to be doing any work or business in the UK at all to organise that people can buy your shares through the stock exchange. They’re whining about nothing or most of these companies. Don’t do business in the UK? Don’t pay tax in the UK, seems simple enough really, doesn’t it?

Of the others, BP and Centrica are just paying the massive bills to sort out old oil platforms. Ocado’s lost a fortune in the recent past as it invested to grow, they’ve still got those old tax loses to get through. And so on through the list. There’s not one single company here doing anything in the slightest dodgy. And yet we’ve got the Mail whining.

Which brings is to this old trout:

Last night, Dame Margaret Hodge, formerly chair of the Commons Public Accounts Committee, said: ‘Tax avoidance by large corporations is a blight on this country. It means there is less money for our underfunded public services. ‘This shocking revelation by The Mail on Sunday shows the Government is still failing to get to grips with this scandal. ‘The fact that some companies pay no corporation tax but grab our taxpayers’ money through tax credits beggars belief.’

Dame Margaret, Lady Hodge, has been in Parliament for a couple of decades now, has voted for many of the laws which these companies are obeying scrupulously. And yet still she whines?

And this is just ludicrous:

But Alex Cobham, of the Tax Justice Network, says even if the mines are abroad, often there is a significant management presence in the UK.

As Alex, from the Tax Justice Network, should know the presence of management doesn’t give rise to a corporation tax liability. And that this is the best thing he could some up with shows how damn weak the Mail’s case is. And this is just lovely:

Two real estate investment trusts (REITs), British Land and Segro, paid no tax last year. REITs are funds which enable investors to put money into commercial property. If they return 90 per cent of profits to investors no corporation tax is due.

Companies specifically designed, by Parliament and by the law, not to pay tax don’t pay tax. Scandal!

Seriously, this is pathetic. Can we get ourselves a better press somewhere please?

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timworstallShadeburstJonathan HarstonQuentin Vole Recent comment authors
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Quentin Vole
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Quentin Vole

And ‘Enver’ Hodge’s own family business (Stemcor) has in the past paid very little tax because of carried forward losses. It’s almost as though she’s so stupendously thick that she doesn’t understand where her own money comes from, or she’s a hypocritical old bat (not necessarily exclusive options).

Jonathan Harston
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Jonathan Harston

How ***DARE*** companies that make no profit pay no profit taxes! Something Must Be Done!!! froth

Shadeburst
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Shadeburst

See my comment here on the forelock-tugging aspects of titles like “Dame” and “Lady.” https://www.adamsmith.org/blog/dame-sally-davies-is-sadly-ignorant-about-obesity

timworstall
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timworstall

See the response there for a general view. More specifically here. She’s Dame Margaret very recently in her own right. She was, before, Lady Hodge (and not Lady Margaret) from her deceased husband’s knighthood. I’ve had it on good advice that being referred to as Margaret, Lady Hodge (the correct if formal mode), pissed her off mightily as it rather conflicted with hr political persona of being a vanguard of the people. Which is why I used to use it. Now with the Damehood just double it up, why not? It is, by the way, incorrect to use both. Only… Read more »