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Thursday, 23 May 2013

Thursday, May 23, 2013 Posted by Jake No comments Labels:
Posted by Jake on Thursday, May 23, 2013 with No comments | Labels:

Amazon pays less corporation tax than it got in government grants
The UK arm of internet shopping giant Amazon received more money in government grants than it paid in UK corporation tax in 2012, according to its accounts. Amazon's UK subsidiary paid £2.4m in corporation tax in 2012, but it received £2.5m in government grants during the same period. The company has previously said it made £4.26bn in sales to British customers. Amazon received the grants from Scottish Enterprise, part of the Scottish government, to develop its operations in Scotland and create more jobs. CHANNEL 4 NEWS
(“Oh, but Amazon’s so convenient. I order a gift in one place (let’s call it Scotland), and send it to another (let’s call it HMRC). Sure, £100k goes missing along the way, but what can you do? It's Amazon,” said the FD of Amazon...)

Atos benefit claimants face biased medical assessments, doctor alleges
Medical assessments of benefit applicants at Atos Healthcare were designed to incorrectly assess claimants as being fit for work, one of the company's former senior doctors has claimed. GP Greg Wood says that medical staff were told to change reports if they were too favourable to claimants. He added, "I think the Department for Work and Pensions is the real culprit here. It's the government training that makes Atos assessors do this." Last year the British Medical Association called for the tests to be scrapped to prevent harm to the most vulnerable people in society. GUARDIAN
(“OK, our health checks have zero credibility. But our health cheque has lots of zeros! So that’s OK, then,” said our Atos insider.)

MPs ask for £10k pay rise, saying 'It's not snouts in the trough - if you pay peanuts you get monkeys'
Annual salaries would increase from £65,738 to £75,000. One senior MP described their salary as a 'pitiful pay cheque.' The rise is expected to be recommended next month. Downing Street will be alarmed at the prospect of a big rise for MPs because it would undermine Cameron’s ‘we’re all in it together’ campaign to encourage other workers to make do with no increase or minimal rises of one per cent. DAILY MAIL
(So… to be clear about this: it’s a race for global competitiveness. And this is the Planet of the Apes…)

Lloyds chief pledges to pull out of tax havens
António Horta-Osório, CEO of 39%-taxpayer owned bank, makes pledge after a shareholder demanded to know why bank was the seventh biggest user of such facilities. Campaigning shareholder Anne Edmonds said: "I want to know when this will be stopped. Tax avoidance is legal and what Lloyds is doing is legal. But to me there is little difference between tax avoidance, which is legal, and tax evasion, which is illegal." GUARDIAN
(“We’ve been asking the same question for years! Seventh? We should be first!” said all the other shareholders...)


Contactless cards hit shoppers with phantom charges 
Customers were billed for items they never bought even though their contactless card was still in their pocket or bag. Marks and Spencer and Pret a Manger customers' cards were activated simply by being inches from the card reader “field”. The UK Cards Association, which represents debit and credit card firms, said: ‘We do think there is a bit more we can do in educating cardholders to tell them not to put their wallet down in this quite narrow field when they pay.’ DAILY MAIL
(In plain English: if we rip you off deliberately, it’s our fault. If we rip you off accidentally, it’s your fault.)

Taxing tax havens would raise £99bn and end world poverty, says Oxfam
Charity says governments worldwide are losing more than £99bn a year and calls for tougher action against tax havens. According to Oxfam's estimates, almost $18.5tn has accumulated over time by individuals alone in tax havens, one third of it in British Overseas Territories and crown dependencies. This total does not include taxes freshly dodged every year worldwide. GUARDIAN

UK Uncut loses legal challenge over Goldman Sachs tax deal with HMRC
The judge ruled the deal was not unlawful but criticises former HMRC tax boss, Dave Hartnett, for striking the deal, in part, to save Chancellor Osborne embarrassment. HMRC waived £20m in taxes believing that Goldmans would otherwise refuse to sign Osborne’s new tax code of conduct. Anna Walker, campaigns director of UK Uncut Legal Action, said: "Despite not having won the case today, we still feel that this judgment has demonstrated that the government is making a political choice to cut legal aid, public services and the welfare system, rather than take action to make corporate giants … pay their fair share of tax.” GUARDIAN

Starbucks have still not paid money pledged after tax row in December
Starbucks has just admitted that they have not yet paid any of the £20m they promised they would pay to the government after a row over their tax dodging before Christmas. Back then their boss admitted that they might end up having to make a donation to charity because there is no mechanism for a company to pay tax in this way: paying an estimate after bowing to political and public pressure. ITV NEWS

Google branded "devious" over tax dodging arrangements
MPs reacted with incredulity to claims the company did not carry out advertising sales in the UK, despite £3bn a year in revenues. Google paid a mere £6m in tax in 2011. Vice-president Matt Brittin, Google's head of operations in northern Europe, was being interrogated by the Commons public accounts committee. The committee chairman Margaret Hodge said: "You are a company that says you do no evil and I think that you do do evil in that you use smoke and mirrors to avoid paying tax." GUARDIAN

Energy firm Npower feels the heat after accusations of UK tax avoidance
With npower accused of avoiding tax at the same time as hiking prices, some consumers are taking matters into their own hands. Protest group 38 Degrees is organising 30,000 npower customers to switch suppliers. In April, CEO Paul Massara revealed to the House of Commons that his company had paid almost no corporation tax between 2009 and 2011. The energy giant had used a Maltese company to transfer funds between it and its German parent firm, RWE. Experts suggest there was no other reason to do this except to reduce the firm's tax liability. GUARDIAN

Tamiflu drug bill “shocking waste of taxpayers' money”
The government spent £424m stockpiling a drug to treat flu despite there being question marks over the effectiveness of the medicine. Of the 40m units of Tamiflu bought between 2006 and 2013, a quarter were written off. Some 6.5m units of the drug had to be binned because of storage problems - a mistake that cost £74m. Additional stocks of Tamiflu are due to reach their end of shelf lives and be replaced during 2013-14 at a cost of £49m. BBC NEWS
("Let's not be too harsh on them. Mistakes happen," said a gang of very understanding pharmaceutical manufacturers...)

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