UK lawmakers accuse Google, Amazon and Starbucks of “immoral tax avoidance.” This comes after executives from the three companies appeared before the UK’s public accounts committee. Tax laws allow businesses with European operations to put their headquarters in any of the European Union nations, which enables them to take advantage of the continent’s lowest tax rates.
Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG), Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN), and Starbucks Corporation (NASDAQ:SBUX) have all been accused of “immoral tax avoidance” by lawmakers in the UK. This comes after the public accounts committee in Parliament said the government should be stricter with global companies that exploit tax laws to take revenue generated in the UK to offshore locations.
Tax laws allow businesses with operations in Europe to set up their base of operations in any of the European Union countries, which enables them to place their headquarters in the countries with the lowest tax rates. Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG)’s bases of operations are in Bermuda and Ireland, while Starbucks Corporation (NASDAQ:SBUX) based its European operations in the Netherlands. Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN) has located its headquarters in Luxembourg.
Lawmakers say executives from Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG), Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN), and Starbucks Corporation (NASDAQ:SBUX) were “evasive” when they appeared before the public accounts committee last month to discuss their tax practices in the UK. Their report says that all three of the companies did accept that the profit they earn should be taxed in the country where it was earned.
Currently the UK’s economy has been struggling amidst Europe’s current economic crisis, and there has been a public outcry throughout the country as citizens voice their anger against international companies that make large profits but pay little tax on those profits. The leaders of Germany, Britain, and France are calling for the largest economies in the world to collaborate against tax evasion, especially in the online retail industry.
In response to the allegations, Starbucks Corporation (NASDAQ:SBUX) has announced that it’s going over its tax practices in its UK operations in an attempt to regain the trust of the British public. CNBC cites an examination conducted by Reuters that shows Starbucks reported losses for 13 years from its UK operations, although the coffee giant reported to investors that its UK operations were among the most profitable of all its international operations.
In the UK, Starbucks Corporation (NASDAQ:SBUX) did not pay a corporation tax in the last three years, and since 1998, it has paid only 8.6 million pounds, even though it brought in 3 billion pounds in revenue. UK residents have begun boycotting Starbucks and even protesting at locations all over the country.