This month it was revealed that Amazon, Google, and Starbucks have systematically been avoiding tax on most of their profits. The glib view these companies take of their tax obligations was on full display two weeks ago, when Amazon’s Director of Public Policy, Andrew Cecil, caused the usually sedate members of the public accounts committee to scold him for his ‘outrageous’ and ‘deliberately evasive’ responses and his fantastical claim that he was not aware of how much Amazon made from its British operations. These companies are not exceptions. The total amount avoided in tax is approximately £25 billion; the amount illegally evaded is far higher, at £70 billion. In reality, the distinction between avoidance and evasion is nebulous, arising at least as much from the pusillanimity of tax inspectors as legislative loopholes. Over the last eight years, HMRC has failed to take to court a single company for avoidance of corporation tax, preferring to conclude amicable arrangements which result in companies paying a titular sum amounting to only a pitiful fraction of their actual liabilities. The image of the pertinacious taxman obstinately pursuing tax-dodgers is something that only applies when it comes to the rest of us, not big business. Moreover, HMRC’s inherent lassitude in enforcing corporation tax is compounded by the government’s efforts to reduce it a token organization, with only a token staff. 10,000 of its already over-burdened inspectors are to be made redundant once new budget cuts come into effect.
too tired to comment properly but:
- This sort of stuff is of course emblematic of the general decades-long trend provided by NeoLiberalism and now Austerity measures (an arm of NeoLiberalism). Things weren’t great before this trend started, but now it’s like an Accelerationist’s wet dream.
- So each time any sort of gov’t official announces an Austerity measure or a budget cut or the closing of a program that provided something potentially beneficial (like NEH or NHPRC funding) much less fundamental (like welfare and entitlement programs or the postal service) one should be reminded that such cuts are 100% unnecessary and enforced only and purely to the benefit of the already powerful.
- In the face of differentials of Power, the Law is irrelevant. As are regulations. Individuals and smaller businesses are subject to the Law and regulations, but larger corporations will always find a way around, through, and over… As much as these corporations enrich the government, as much as these things are institutionally entwined, the government is fine with that.
- Archives/Library/Information Professional friends… This is what I mean when I say “Fuck Google in the Eye”, yes they do amazing things with information technology, with linked data, with digitization, but by operating as a monstrous corporate entity they are effectively stabbing all your colleagues in the back as they grow and monopolize. Remember this next time you see a pathetically funded professional position or the lack of one all together. People in Publishing can recognize this with Amazon, it’s time Archivists and Librarians began recognizing this with Google.