Starbucks, Google and Amazon hauled before PAC

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Executives from Starbucks, Google and Amazon face a grilling by MPs today over the amount of tax the companies have paid in the UK

The Public Accounts Committee (PAC), which is charged with monitoring government financial affairs, has invited the companies to give evidence amid mounting public and political concern about tax avoidance by big international companies.

Starbucks' global finance chief, Troy Alstead, and UK managing director, Kris Engskov, will give evidence to the PAC. Representatives from Amazon and Google are also expected to give evidence.

The three companies have come under high-profile attacks for their corporate tax payments. Last month, Starbucks was accused of making over £3bn in UK sales since 1998, but paying less than 1% in corporation tax. MPs criticised Google in August for paying £6m in tax after UK revenues of £396m, and Amazon has come under fire after allegedly generating sales of more than £3.3bn in the UK last year but paying no corporation tax on any of the profits.

The firms have defended their tax affairs, saying they meet all their legal obligations on tax in the UK and around the world.

MPs of all parties voiced concern over tax avoidance after intense scrutiny by the media over the issue. Campaign groups such as UK Uncut, which has announced plans to target Starbucks stores in December, are also exerting pressure.

Lord Myners, the former City minister, and Margaret Hodge, who chairs the PAC, said at the weekend the Treasury should look into a sales tax as a way of raising extra revenue from global companies.

Lord Myners said  corporation tax for multinationals operating in the UK was "close to being a voluntary payment."

 

Raymond Doherty

 

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