American executives were to be on the hotseat in Britain on Monday as they faced questioning by U.K. tax authorities over how they managed to pay so little tax on earnings that amounted to billions. Amazon, Google and Starbucks have found doing business in the U.K. to be highly profitable, yet have paid little or no tax on their earnings.
Reuters reported Monday that the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), the body responsible for overseeing government financial affairs, has invited executives from the three corporations to give evidence about their financial practices even as the public and politicians alike grow increasingly irate over international companies’ ability to engage in tax avoidance.
“It is hard for the ordinary person to believe it’s fair,” said Margaret Hodge in the report. Hodge, a member of Parliament for the Labour party and chairman of PAC, continued, “It makes people incredibly angry in the current fiscal climate.”
Britain is not the only country to seek larger tax receipts from multinational corporations. Germany, along with Britain, had announced last week that they both intended to compel G20 economic officials to crack down on multinationals that do not pay their “fair share” of taxes, after numerous reports that large companies took advantage of loopholes to cut or eliminate their tax bills.
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An October Reuters report revealed that Starbucks had paid neither corporate nor income taxes in the U.K. for the past three years, and indeed forked over only 8.6 million pounds ($13.74 million) in total taxes to Britain over a 13-year period during which it recorded sales of 3.1 billion pounds.
The group U.K. Uncut has voiced its opposition to government austerity measures and has put together protests against British telecom operator Vodafone and pharmacist Boots over their tax practices, issued a statement Monday saying that it planned to target Starbucks.