BBC Uncovers ‘Aggressive’ Tax Avoidance Scheme

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Courtesy of Zoe Conway @ The BBC:

Anderson Group, one of the recruitment industry’s most high-profile companies, is promoting an “aggressive” tax avoidance scheme which experts are calling “abusive”.
The scheme works by exploiting the government’s Employment Allowance.

The scam could deprive the Treasury of tens of millions of pounds of National Insurance payments.

Anderson Group says that all of its services are fully compliant with UK tax laws.
It says it is “totally incorrect” to say that Anderson Group is promoting the scheme and says it is a product being offered by one of its clients.

Anderson Group, which calls itself the UK’s “leading provider of support services to the recruitment industry” has hundreds of agencies and thousands of contractors on its books.

The tax avoidance scheme works by exploiting the government’s Employment Allowance which was introduced last year.

The allowance enables companies to claim £2,000 off their annual employers’ National Insurance bill and was meant to encourage small businesses to take on more workers.
Secret recording

The BBC secretly recorded Anderson Group’s sales manager, Ian Moran, promoting the tax avoidance scheme to a recruitment agency.

The agency he was pitching to employs 300 workers, many of whom work in low paid jobs in warehouses or as labourers.

Mr Moran suggested that if the recruitment agency were to set up more than 100 limited companies with a couple of workers in each of them, each company could then claim the £2,000 allowance.

By Mr Moran’s calculations the agency’s National Insurance bill would then fall from £300,000 a year to zero. Continue reading

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Amazon UK boycott urged after retailer pays just £4.2m in tax

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Amazon.co.uk’s warehouse in Milton Keynes. Photograph: David Levene

Courtesy of Juliette Garside @ The Guardian:

Shoppers have been urged to boycott Amazon’s British business after it paid just £4.2m in tax last year, despite selling goods worth £4.3bn – more than the UK sales of Argos, Dixons or the non-food arm of Marks & Spencer.

Margaret Hodge, chair of the public accounts committee, said shoppers should find alternatives to the Seattle-headquartered retailer, after consumer action persuaded coffee chain Starbucks to resume UK tax payments last year.

“It is an outrage and Amazon should pay their fair share of tax,” said Hodge. “They are making money out of not paying taxes. I no longer use Amazon. We should shop elsewhere. What we demonstrated with Starbucks is the power of the consumer voice.”

Amazon’s most recent charge brings to just over £10m its contribution to the public purse through corporation tax in a decade. Over the last four years, Amazon has generated £23bn in British sales. It made a tax contribution of £3.2m the previous year.

Amazon is able to pay low tax because when shoppers in Europe buy from any of its local websites, the payment is taken by a subsidiary based in the low tax jurisdiction of Luxembourg. A British shopper’s bank statement will show a payment to Amazon EU S.à.r.l. rather than Amazon.co.uk.

Amazon’s British arm employs thousands of staff in warehousing, software design, accounting, human resources and other functions. For tax purposes, its role is simply to provide services to the European master company in Luxembourg.

“People will look at this and feel it’s incredibly unfair,” said Tory MP and tax campaigner Charlie Elphicke. “That they work hard and pay their taxes while big American multinationals engage in industrial scale tax avoidance. This is why international tax reform is badly needed and why the chancellor has been right to make the international case. Tax abuse is wrong and must be stamped out.” Continue reading