Tax Avoidance Protesters to Target Starbucks

Press Release

UK Uncut

UK Uncut continues to pressure Starbucks over impact of government cuts on women

Over 44 protests across the UK planned for Starbucks stores this weekend, as public anger increases.

Protestors plan to transform Starbucks into refuges, crèches and homeless shelters in protest against impact of government’s cuts on women.

Public anger continues to grow against Starbucks, despite the coffee company desperately attempting to distract people from their tax dodging. Anti-cuts direct action network UK Uncut report that the number of protests planned for this weekend have increased since the tax announcement released by the cowering corporation.

Women’s groups and local UK Uncut groups from Glasgow to Belfast to Portsmouth will be participating in their biggest national day of action yet on Saturday 8th December, targeting Starbucks coffee stores in protest against the government’s spending cuts that are hurting women. Starbucks and other tax-dodging corporations, including Google and Amazon, face increasing public outrage and stinging criticism from the Public Accounts Committee over recent exposes of their abusive tax practices.

Protestors have chosen to target Starbucks as a result of its tax avoidance- taxes they claim could fund public services currently being cut by the government. Saturday’s action will see Starbucks stores transformed into refuges, crèches and homeless shelters to highlight the disproportionate impact of the government’s spending cuts on women. The action will take place on Saturday 8th December, three days after the Chancellor’s autumn statement when further spending cuts of £3.7bn to welfare were announced.

Sarah Greene, a UK Uncut activist said:

 “It is an outrage that the government continues to let multinationals like Starbucks dodge millions in tax while cutting vital services like refuges, creches and rape crisis centres. It does not have to be this way. The government could easily bring in billions that could fund vital services by clamping down on tax dodging.”

Responding to Starbucks’ announcement that it will not claim tax deductions in the UK on a range of its tax arrangements, Hannah Pearce, a UK Uncut supporter said:

“Offering to pay some tax if and when it suits you doesn’t stop you being a tax dodger. This is just a desperate attempt by Starbucks to deflect public pressure- hollow promises on press releases don’t fund women’s refuges or child benefits.”

“We need the government to force Starbucks and every other tax dodging company to pay their fair share, instead of cutting welfare and tax credits for single mums and disabled women. People are angry, this weekend 44 actions will take place in Starbucks stores in towns and cities in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. People will be transforming Starbucks stores into refuges, crèches and other services threatened by the Government’s unjust and unnecessary cuts.”

A spokesperson from Global Women’s strike, one of the women’s groups supporting Saturday’s action said:

“Women – in families, homes, communities and jobs – bear the brunt of austerity. At our Women’s Centre we see more women cut off benefits, losing their jobs, being made homeless and going hungry. Already, 3.5m children live in poverty, 1 in 5 mothers skips a meal to feed her children, and many walk miles to get food handouts because they can’t afford the bus fare. Women are also expected to pick up the pieces as services disappear or turn people away, saying they are overwhelmed. Asylum seekers were the first to be made destitute, and this is now becoming the norm. Victims of rape and domestic violence are particularly affected as more will be forced to stay in violent relationship to keep a roof over their heads.”

Starbucks has come under fire after a Reuters investigation disclosed that the company had paid no UK corporation tax in the last three years, despite reporting sales of £1.2bn. The company was also reported to have filed accounts saying the companies UK operations were making a loss, while reporting strong UK profits to investors.

Campaigners have highlighted research showing that women will experience a disproportionate impact as a result of the government’s public spending cuts. Women are bearing the brunt of cuts to public sector jobs, wages, housing benefit, childcare, and pensions. Additional hardship on women is being caused by the government’s decision to cut £5.6m from violence against women services, £300m from Sure Start centres and a further £10 billion in benefit cuts. Every day 230 women are turned away from refuges as a result of the government’s cuts to women’s services.

Sheena Shah, a UK Uncut activist said

“Women have had enough of being attacked by a cabinet of out of touch millionaires. The government’s savage austerity plans are pushing the cause of women’s equality back decades. Welfare, healthcare, Sure Start centres, childcare, rape and domestic abuse services are being cut and female unemployment is rocketing. Benefits cuts are forcing women to choose between heating the house and feeding the family. No one should have to make these choices.”

ENDS

 

50p TAX RATE, POPULAR WITH THE PUBLIC, AND IN-LINE WITH OTHER OECD COUNTRIES

Declan Gaffney’s article today on Left Foot Forward, brilliantly gets behind the misinformation about the 50p tax rate (This following quote is abrdiged, read the full article here)

Twenty economists writing to the Financial Times (£) state:

“We are concerned that Britain’s 50p income tax is doing lasting damage to the UK economy.

“It gives the UK one of the highest personal tax regimes in the industrialised world, making it less competitive internationally and making us less attractive as a destination for both foreign investment and talented workers.”

In reporting this, the BBC website presents a table which seems to show the UK’s top marginal income tax rate is a lot higher than in all but two of the UK’s top eight trading partners, as well as Japan and Switzerland.

the rates cited take no account of payroll taxes such as National Insurance contributions. In several countries these are still in play at the earnings level where the top marginal rate kicks in, and are obviously crucial in any assessment of the economic impact of marginal rates.

Fortunately the OECD also publishes an ‘all-in’ series on top marginal rates taking account of sub-national and payroll taxes. In Table 1, we’ve matched this data up with the BBC’s figures and included Sweden. Note that the top rate in the UK is 51%, reflecting the 1% National Insurance Contribution above the Upper Earnings Limit (2% since April 2011,but these figures are for 2010).

Table 1:

Top-marginal-tax-rates

From this table, six of the UK’s ten main trading partners have top marginal rates at or above 50%, or 49.8% if we want to be pedantic about France. Low top marginal rate countries are the exception among the UK’s main trading partners – Spain and the US – and even here top rates are 43%, considerably higher than the rates reported by the BBC

And higher taxes for top earners are broadly popular, as Jon Lansman reports:

Last weekend’s YouGov poll for the Sunday Times reveals what the public think of the 50 tax rate. And readers will be encouraged that roughly half the population — across the voters of all three main parties — think the top rate is about right (although younger people and Londoners are less likely to think so – with more favouring a lower top rate) . In answer to the question “do you think the current 50% rate of income tax for people earning over £150,000 is too high, too low, or is it about right,” 48% said “about right” with the rest of those who expressed an opinion split almost evenly between those who thought “too high” and “too low”.

Better still, when asked more generally about taxes on the wealthiest people in the UK, 45% thought they should be increased, 35% kept at their present level and only 11% decreased. Age and geography are less of a factor in this but Tory voters are, unsurprisingly, more likely to oppose tax increases.

Cameron in April: “no Plans to Raise Vat”

From Press Association, 23rd April 2010

David Cameron dismissed claims the Tories would put up VAT if they win the General Election.

Although he again stressed it would be “irresponsible” to give guarantees against any tax move, Mr Cameron did say: “We have said in respect to all taxes that we think the Government’s doing too much in terms of raising taxes and not enough in terms of cutting spending.

“We have absolutely no plans to raise VAT. Our first budget is all about recognising we need to get spending under control rather than putting up tax.”

Leanne Wood Says Stop the Tax Cheats

Plaid Cymru Welsh Assembly member Leane Wood has made the earliest return to politics after the Christmas break, with this call for people to become involved in protests against tax avoidance, published at 8:14 am on Boxing Day! From Leanne’s blog:

Justice Network and Tax Research UK have produced a eight point manifesto to stop tax dodgers. Tax expert Richard Murphy says

Britain has a particular problem with tax cheating. London lies at the centre of a global tax haven empire and tax cheating has become the norm at boardroom level and among rich people. It is not helpful that so many politicians are themselves users of tax havens.

The ConDem government in London want to cut the deficit, but are unlikely to do anything about tax dodgers as many of them are engaged in the practice themselves. 2010 saw the birth of UKUncut. With protests organised and information shared on twitter, UKUncut are exposing tax dodgers, showing how we are not all in this together. Does tax-dodging enrage you? Why not make a pledge to yourself to do something about it in 2011?

On Tax Rewards for Marriage

From Left Foot Forward

Harriet Harman does extremely well at Prime Minister’s Question Time

As Left Foot Forward explains

the Institute for Fiscal Studies published research before the election showing that “encouraging parents to marry [is] unlikely to lead to significant improvements in young children’s outcomes”. As Left Foot Forward documented before the election, the outcome gaps in cognitive development between children born to married and cohabiting parents are relatively small compared with the outcome gaps associated with a range of other factors.  The finding is consistent with a recent paper by Ruth Lister and Fran Bennett for Renewal, which concluded:

“As a number of commentators have pointed out, it is not possible to conclude from the statistics that marriage itself causes the positive outcomes associated with it and that therefore the stability of a society is a function of the support given to the institution of marriage. In particular, social scientists suggest that the stability associated with marriage can be attributed to the kind of people who choose to get married or to cohabit and to the values that they hold.”

Finally, Labour’s decision in 2007 to allow inheritance tax allowances to be transferable between married couples and civil partners remains contentious with many on the left but marriage was already recognised in the inheritance tax system. This is completely different from introducing a new (and expensive) tax break.

Mr Cameron did not explain why his policy discriminates against lone parents and widows, excludes 11.6 million married people where both husband and wife work, and does nothing for the roughly 600,000 married couples of working age who do not earn over the £6,555 tax threshold.

Compass Calls for Tax on the Rich

We’re closing in for Tax Justice in the 2009 Budget!

A YouGov poll commissioned by Compass has revealed overwhelming support for a tax crackdown on the wealthy in the 2009 Budget. Yesterday an open letter from leading figures was published in The Guardian calling on the Chancellor to act – today it is your responsibility to do the same! We want 7 days of letter writing in the run-up to the Budget.

Our poll reveals 77% agree that the government should do everything it can to close in on the multi billion pounds lost through personal tax avoidance. In further support of the Compass call for greater tax fairness in the 2009 Budget:

– 71% agree with a new wealth tax on earnings above £250,000;
– 61% agree that the Government should break its 2005 manifesto commitment not to increase any rates of income tax and immediately introduce a new top rate of income tax for all those earning above £100,000 per year;
– 52% agree with a new tax on bonuses above £1000.

Along with these poll results we’ve published a campaign dossier that reveals the extent of personal tax avoidance in Britain today, which includes a model letter to write to the Chancellor. Download the dossier now and write to Alistair Darling!

Tonight we’ll be holding our Tax Justice Rally from 6pm at the TUC – if you’d like to come but haven’t yet registered there is still time, just hit reply and say you’re coming. This is your chance to put your concerns to Treasury Minister Angela Eagle MP.

You can also sign up in support of the campaign statement, but most importantly we want you to write to the Chancellor.

With the financial crisis and deteriorating state of Britain’s public finances there can be No Turning Back to the pre-crash tax system, now is the right moment to ensure the very wealthiest pay their fair share for a crisis that they themselves by and large created. Crucially however it’s up to all of us to campaign for greater fairness in the 2009 Budget – so make sure you do your bit and write to Alistair Darling today!

Tories Back Higher Band of Tax for the Rich

Today’s announcement certainly comes as a bit of a suprise. According to the Daily Mail:

 “The Conservatives will go into the next general election committed to Labour’s controversial plans to hike income tax to 45p for top earners, David Cameron has indicated.

“In an uncompromising message yesterday on the need for painful public spending cuts to return Britain to ‘fiscal sanity’, the Conservative leader effectively ruled out significant tax reductions if his party wins power.

“And in a major change in approach that will anger the Tory Right, he suggested the richest would have to pay more to salvage ‘the most red-inked, ruined public accounts in modern British history’.

‘The richest in our society must bear a fair share of the burden. . . We will reduce this deficit together,’ he said.

“This appeared to be a clear indication he will enact Labour’s plan to raise the top rate for income tax from 40p to 45p in 2011 for those earning more than £150,000 a year.

“The move, unveiled in Alistair Darling’s ‘emergency Budget’ last November, would affect around 400,000 people and rake in about £2billion a year. “

It is not exactly “Squeeze the rich until the pips squeak”, but it is evidence that there has been a fundamental shift in public opinion and Labour are being far too cautious in not following it. The Obama administration’s proposed 90% rate of tax for bonues from companies bailed out by public money is a brilliant idea, and Sir Fred Goodwin could easily have his whopping pension diverted to the public purse by  similar measures.

Labour Introduces New High Tax Rate Band for the Rich

In a highly symbolic move, according to the BBC, Labour is to announce tomorrow the introduction of a new high rate of tax for those earning over £150000.

This is a very well calibrated measure, as an income of £150000 is outside the range that the most skilled workers or middle class professionals can achieve, so this measure will fall squarely on the rich.

How far will this retro tour of 1970s policies go? Full nationalisation of the banks has been rumoured. Will we see a tax on unearned income? A wealth tax?