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Guess who made £21m in profits and paid not a penny in tax?

If you’re like me, you like a bit of coffee now and again – but did you know one major coffee shop chain in the UK is one of the worst tax avoiders ever?

It turns out that Starbucks isn’t the only coffee shop chain operating in the UK that doesn’t like paying its fair share to Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs. No, it’s just come to light – after a viral social media post – that Caffe Nero, the firm with more than 500 shops in the UK – paid absolutely nil to HMRC last year, despite it’s £204 million in sales and its £21.1 million profit margin.

So what sort of accounting miracles does it take to make £21 million in taxable income just up and disappear? It’s simple really – just route the ownership of your business through countries that are tax havens like Luxembourg. That’s where the parent company for Caffe Nero is headquartered. It makes everything nice and legal, despite the fact that the British taxpayer has to make up the shortfall when the taxman comes a-knocking – and if you’re one of the poor contractors or self-employed Brits that HMRC has tried to squeeze lately because it can’t get its hands on any of that corporate cash frittered away into tax havens overseas, you’re likely to be more than a bit angry at the whole thing.

So what do we do about it then? I mean we can stop having a coffee whilst we’re out and about, but that’s not really feasible is it? The number of coffee shops we can safely step inside without being implicit in tax avoidance seems to be shrinking by the moment; we’ll have to soon have no choice but to brew it at home and then bring it with us to work in a big, ugly tartan print thermos like a construction worker from the 1950s.

Look I don’t like giving money to bastards like Caffe Nero or Starbucks, but sometimes you just need your cup of coffee. I’ll promise to look the other way if you do. If we meet in the queue just don’t look at me with those accusatory eyes of yours and I won’t point a finger either – fair enough?

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