Tax Havens Used by UK’s Top Companies
UK tax laws provide a myriad of loopholes which can and are being widely used for tax avoidance. Companies that come to mind are, Google, Amazon and Starbucks who have been widely criticsed for making extensive use of a number of the legal but morally abhorrent loopholes achieving markedly reduced corporate tax charges. Taking into the survey of the UK’s largest 100 public companies there are over 8,000 linking offshoots involved in business activities, (onshore and offshore) registered in tax havens. Only 2 out of the 100 public companies had no offshoots registered in tax havens.
George Osborne, in a recent speech brought the issue to the attention of the UK public stating the matter needed to be resolved in months not years, to the satisfaction of the Treasury. The challenge would be daunting and time consuming since the bulk of the offshoot companies were registered in UK Crown dependencies such as, Bermuda, Gibraltar and Jersey. Onshore tax havens are also extensively used. Ireland, has a reputation for low taxation and a hands off business environment. Efforts are being made, through the legislation to force Ireland to harmonise their taxation policies with other european countries.
4 of the UK’ largest banks use tax havens, namely Barclays, Lloyds TSB, HSBC, and the Royal Bank of Scotland. Just about all of the larger retailers, (supermarkets) and food manufacturers compete for places in the top 10 tax haven users emphasising the extent of the tax losses to the UK treasury. So there we have it. The UK is losing many £ billions of tax revenues each and every year. The loopholes need to be closed and sharpish but is the will to do it with government?