Monday, 23 April 2012

Non-taxable takeaways

According to this week's Private Eye and the FT, George Osborne personally lobbied the Indian Government to let Vodafone off paying a £2billion tax bill it dodged by channelling a takeover through an offshore tax haven… just like they've done here (your bill doesn't mention it, but Vodafone's actually a Liechtenstein shell company).

Osborne's claim is that if Vodafone has to pay its taxes, it and other companies won't invest in India. So? If Vodafone won't pay its taxes, it's not contributing, and can sod off. More to the point, if they can't make money and pay taxes, they're essentially saying that their profits are nothing more than subsidies from the Indian taxpayer (like British railway operators).

So the British chancellor is helping an offshore company avoid paying tax in a poor country to which we give £1 billion - aid to which his rightwing MPs and the Daily Mail object. Even worse, while Osborne tells the Indians they shouldn't close down abusive tax evasion, he's just done the same thing to Barclays. It can't be one rule for the rich countries and one for the poor… can it?

How about this? If we start telling Vodafone to pay its taxes, rather than helping them rip off poor countries, we won't have to give them any aid. Everyone's a winner. Meanwhile, how about asking our MPs to inquire why a UK Chancellor is spending his time helping an essentially foreign company rip off a foreign company?

Too radical?

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