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Freelancers target for tax avoidance – what about big firms?

Freelancers and contractors have been subject to withering fire from both the media and HMRC for tax avoidance schemes – but big firms can be much worse.

Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs has been quite keen on stamping out any possible instances of tax avoidance as of late, especially from the freelancing sector. However, there are many larger firms that are ‘slipping through the cracks’ when it comes down to paying the taxman their fair share – and one of the largest offenders is Starbucks, the coffee giant, which has been decidedly lacking in tax payments over the last ten years.

The High Street has been home to Starbucks since 1998, making more than £3 billion in revenue in that time. However, a new report from Reuters revealed that the coffee vendor has paid but a paltry £8.6 million in tax over that same time period – and from 2009 it hasn’t paid one penny in tax to HMRC.

Starbucks has been reporting substantial losses in its annual UK accounts, thus avoiding having to put up any cash to the taxman in the meantime. However, the café chain has been telling a different tale to its shareholders, instead announcing that the losses have been in profits instead.

Michael Meacher, Labour MP, called the news absolutely ‘disgraceful’ after learning of the coffee giant’s practices and accused Starbucks of trying to game the system in their favour. Mr Meacher said that the accounting practices of the coffee vendor patently unfair and that they couldn’t be more against the interests of their host countries.

In defence of the tax payments made (or not made) by her firm, one Starbucks spokeswoman insisted that the company is simply complying with the UK tax code as it is written.

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