Gransnet forums


to find the witch hunt against Starbucks, Amazon, Google etc laughable

(126 Posts)
Sel Mon 12-Nov-12 19:25:06

Hold on - these companies have done nothing illegal. They have worked within the framework of legislation, set down by this and the previous Governments. They are answerable to their shareholders. What hyprocrisy. To add the icing on the cake is to see Margaret Hodge chairing the Public Accounts and Select Committe - that would be the same Mrs Hodge who's father founded Stemcor...

If we are going down this route, then please, let's name ALL companies that indulge in what are, perfectly legal accounting practices to minimise tax liabilities. Last I heard, they included most water companies.

Also, those individuals who use the perfectly legal loophole of declaring themselves a corporate entity, thereby avoiding higher rate income tax by taking money earned as dividends.

This is all wrong but easy to change...why hasn't that happened?

Greatnan Tue 13-Nov-12 11:44:31

Companies commonly force employees to take self-employed contracts because it means they do no have any employment rights (redundancy pay, paid holidays, sick pay, National Insurance, etc.) It is usually of no benefit whatsoever to the employee as the type of work they do, often in construction, rarely gives rise to any appreciable amount of expenses. There have been some 'blitzes' by the Inland Revenue in the past, where people had to show how they fulfilled the criteria of self-employment.

Every pound 'saved' by companies using off-shore puppet companies is one pound less for the people in real need of support.

I like the comment 'We are not saying you are doing anything illegal - we are saying you are doing something immoral'.

Greatnan Tue 13-Nov-12 11:50:29

Taken from the HMRC website:

Employed or self-employed?

In order to answer this question it is necessary to determine whether the person works under a contract of service (employees) or under a contract for services (self-employed, independent contractor). For tax and NICs purposes, there is no statutory definition of a contract of service or of a contract for services. What the parties call their relationship, or what they consider it to be, is not conclusive. It is the reality of the relationship that matters.

In order to determine the nature of a contract, it is necessary to apply common law principles. The courts have, over the years, laid down some factors and tests that are relevant, which is included in the overview below.

As a general guide as to whether a worker is an employee or self-employed; if the answer is 'Yes' to all of the following questions, then the worker is probably an employee:
•Do they have to do the work themselves?
•Can someone tell them at any time what to do, where to carry out the work or when and how to do it?
•Can they work a set amount of hours?
•Can someone move them from task to task?
•Are they paid by the hour, week, or month?
•Can they get overtime pay or bonus payment?

If the answer is 'Yes' to all of the following questions, it will usually mean that the worker is self-employed:
•Can they hire someone to do the work or engage helpers at their own expense?
•Do they risk their own money?
•Do they provide the main items of equipment they need to do their job, not just the small tools that many employees provide for themselves?
•Do they agree to do a job for a fixed price regardless of how long the job may take?
•Can they decide what work to do, how and when to do the work and where to provide the services?
•Do they regularly work for a number of different people?
•Do they have to correct unsatisfactory work in their own time and at their own expense?

Sel Tue 13-Nov-12 12:00:13

I don't think it's as simple as voting with the feet and mouse. There are many companies doing this. They are welcolmed by low tax countries where they can negotiate an even more favourable rate of tax. They hold intellectual property in that juristriction and can then charge operating companies here fees eg for use of their trademark. It's smoke and mirrors and perfectly legal.

Greatnan I was in no way being condesending. I also do not feel the need to share the source of my information or my qualifications. From reading the bios of people who have chosen to share them, there appear to be several members previously/currently employed in the Public sector and that is a very different world to that that I worked in. From the 'is Gransnet Right Wing' thread, there seems to be a vocal left wing element - there's nothing wrong with that but I'm sure you'll agree that balance is always important. My post was not making any political point; it was questioning the witch hunt against three companies when there is tax avoidance rampant in this country on many levels. On the thread I mentioned, I asked what was the relevence of a right/left wing discussion and pointed out that Gransnet was a forum for Grandparents - and I see you have echoed that in your own post.

I am not a cheerleader for large US companies, I am questioning the hyprocisy for singling them out.

granjura Tue 13-Nov-12 12:15:54

Well it should NOT be perfectly legal - to make billions of profit in one country, pay NO or very little tax there, and go and pay low tax somewhere else. Try and do that yourself, and it will get you in BIG trouble, so why should they get away with it. And yes, it is as simple as that- we CAN vote with our feet and mouse, and if we did so, en mass, they would soon get the message.

absentgrana Tue 13-Nov-12 12:24:59

Sel Twice now you have used the expression "witch-hunt" as if there is something essentially ludicrous in people's resentment and anger at named persons and companies employing legal, though unethical tax loopholes. However, I think you actually hit on the mot juste.

witch-hunt > noun* a campaign directed against a person or group holding views considered unorthodox or a threat to society.

Finding ways to avoid paying a reasonable and generally expected level of tax while making sizeable profits is, in my opinion, a threat to society.

granjura Tue 13-Nov-12 12:36:50

Who mentioned 'slinging them out'? All we want is for them to pay a fair amount of tax on their (massive) profit. How that can be construed as 'left wing' I do not know???

Sel Tue 13-Nov-12 12:40:41

granjura and absent I do not disagree with you. I think evading tax is immoral BUT if there is a means to do so and it is legal it will be used by companies and by individuals alike. The remedy is in the Government's hands.

greatnan yes, interesting definitions. Not sure how many people who appear with suspicious regularity on our screens and radios are employed by their own company - a huge financial benefit to both them and their employers.

london Tue 13-Nov-12 14:02:02

am going 2 get myself educated so i can join in some topics smileall a no is i have never been able to afford coffee at starbucks .am not been funny .all just keep reading the threads then i might learn somethink smile

Sel Tue 13-Nov-12 14:16:22

Power to you london - go girl!! You don't need an education to have an opinion and yours is as valid and worthy as anybody elses. There is a lot to learn and we keep doing it. I'm constantly surprised at my own ignorance. Some very clever people I know can't whistle and chew gum (note to self - must try that, it might be more difficult than it sounds!)

london Tue 13-Nov-12 14:21:19

sel thanks smile

absentgrana Tue 13-Nov-12 15:09:42

Their coffee isn't worth the bother london. It's hard to understand why it is so popular and therefore lucrative. I don't really like any of these American and American-style coffee shops.

Meanwhile, I think it's perfectly reasonable to be indignant about the tax evasion practised by Starbucks, Apple, Amazon and Google. These are large, highly profitable, transnational corporations and are the ones we know about. I don't think any of us are such innocents that we are unaware that other companies are using similar sharp practice to reduce their tax payments – we just don't know who they are but would be just as indignant about them as we are about those w are known to us. Some while ago, there was an indignant conversation on Gransnet about Jimmy Carr and his tax dodging in Jersey but I don't remember anyone suggesting that he was the only well-known figure doing it.

Sel Chewing gum is a disgusting habit and whistling is rackety. The two together would be unspeakable. grin

Nonu Tue 13-Nov-12 15:23:03

Sure shifts the wind though . CSL

granjura Tue 13-Nov-12 15:33:22

Why should we leave it in the hands of the Government is they are dragging their feet. As said, we can vote with our own feet and mouse. If a substantial % of their customers do, they will soon take notice. Anyway, as said, Starbucks coffee is awful, weak and bitter - and I want 1 decent cup of coffee in a nice cup, not a swimming-pool in a thick earthenware mug- but that is besides the point.

You try having a decent job and register to pay taxes in the Cayman Islands, and see what happens.

The other issue, which is totally separate, is that I really hate the cloning of our cities, same shops, same restaurants (Carluccios actually had a nervous breakdown about his own chain, and he is himself totally against this cloning effect), same everything. And the lovely cafés, with great coffee, service, home-made cakes and scones - who pay their taxes (no escape for the little people, all disappear).

london Tue 13-Nov-12 15:37:15

absentgran smile it was jimmy carr that I was thinking of before .but didnt want to start another debate xx

JessM Tue 13-Nov-12 15:49:37

In NZ people people seem to choose small, local traders more readily. We seem to fall for the big brands and chains. It is quite a noticeable difference. There are hundreds of coffee shops in Wellington and just 2 of them that I can recall are international chains. Coffee is also cheaper. Interesting.
Absent you have lost me re the arts and opera. I did not mean fancy Arts. I really meant TV, radio and films. I am scratching my head to think of any positive representations of people in business in any of them. They are usually baddies. And sometimes jokes.
Ok - i have thought of the exception. The Archers. and possibly East Enders - but I haven't watched it for years.
Where is the TV series though based around the heroic struggle of a young entrepreneur? Trying to do business with the evil public sector that does not pay the bills for 3 months????
Dragons Den is a circus of humiliation. The Apprentice a complete parody of the business world.
Oh, there was a film once with Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks in which he played the bad big business man swallowing up her good small bookshop. And another one set in new mexico about some brave young women starting up a business in which they cleaned up crime scenes....
I don't think a huge generalisation really.

Greatnan Tue 13-Nov-12 16:06:14

There are young entrepreneurs in The Archers!

Sel Tue 13-Nov-12 16:37:57

JessM interesting thought, I saw a programme with Donald Trump, the benign face of capitalism smile

I see Margaret Hodge is calling for people to boycott Starbucks et al - a dangerous route as companies are legally bound to work in the best financial interests of their shareholders. Shareholders incidentally which will include pension funds. She, as a member of Parliament is calling for a boycott of companies who are doing nothing illegal. I would imagine the legal departments will be all over this if it affects the share price.

Greatnan young entrepreneurs in The Archers? Doesn't cancel out Matt and Brian smile

Off now to pack for my trip to Evil Central, New York - whooo!

granjura Tue 13-Nov-12 16:40:32

If I was a shareholder of a company that does not pay their taxes, I'd be very embarrassed, ashamed actually.

Nonu Tue 13-Nov-12 16:49:09

SEL . Enjoy , will you be going to the Guggenheim Museum ? smile

Sel Tue 13-Nov-12 17:49:14

Nonu possibly,although I think the Natural History museum there is the best in the world. I'm not very into modern art; I struggle to understand it and often think 'I could have done that' - patently I couldn't but you know what I mean. When I see traditional paintings I am so in awe of the talent and have never thought 'I could have done that!' I would love to be able to paint but I am the least artistic person on the planet. Is the Guggenheim a favourite of yours?

Nonu Tue 13-Nov-12 18:27:40

Well truth be told it is iconic , also designed by Frank LLoyd Wright , famous American architect .

For you also , depending where you are in N.Y. it is pretty central .opposite Central Park , which also is pretty amazing .

Granted the artwork is modern , which is not much to my taste , but the setting is quite extraordinary .
Whatever you do , you will have the best time . ENJOY . moon

absentgrana Tue 13-Nov-12 19:03:31

JessM You do keep shooting yourself – fairly gently – in the foot. "Fancy arts" indeed. There is not a war between arts and sciences, not really even a rivalry. Surely anyone with one jot of common sense knows that we need both.

annodomini Tue 13-Nov-12 19:47:54

'Donald Trump, the benign face of capitalism'? Tell that to the residents close to the golf course he is developing in Aberdeenshire! There was a programme on BBC2 (I think) called 'You've Been Trumped' which you might be able to find on i-player. If you have Virgin, it's on Catch-up. Nothing benign about Trump's activities in Scotland.

granjura Tue 13-Nov-12 20:27:35

We were in Atlantic City, during hurricane Floyd, and during a general strike of Trump workers re their very low wages and terrible work conditions- they wouldn't have called him the 'mild face' of capitalism either.

Greatnan Tue 13-Nov-12 21:34:12

I think (hope) that sel was being ironic!