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Friday, 25 April 2014

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Demonstrators to target Carlisle Starbucks in tax dodge protest

Demonstrators will target Starbucks coffee house in Carlisle on Saturday in protest at the company’s failure to pay UK corporation tax.

The direct-action group UK Uncut is synchronising protests across the country aimed at multinational companies that exploit the rules to reduce their tax liability.

The demos are going ahead even though Starbucks is “reviewing” practices that allowed it to avoid corporation tax in 11 of the last 14 years.

Brent Kennedy, of Carlisle Socialist Party, is organising the protest outside Starbucks in Scotch Street.

He said: “It is an outrage that the Government lets multinationals like Starbucks dodge millions in tax.

“The Government could bring in billions that could fund vital services by clamping down on tax dodging.”

Mr Kennedy said Starbucks’ change of heart – it is in talks with HM Revenue & Customs and the Treasury over its tax position – made no difference.

He added: “Their statement confirms what we are saying, that all these corporations have chosen to avoid tax because the Government allows them to get away with it. We need a general anti-avoidance law.”

The protest runs from 11am to 1pm. Mr Kennedy said individuals or organisations affected by spending cuts were welcome to join in and could bring placards and banners.

Starbucks has reduced its UK profits, on which corporation tax is levied, by paying a royalty fee to a Dutch sister company for the rights to use the Starbucks name. The US firm also uses a practice called ‘transfer pricing’ to buy coffee beans from a Swiss subsidiary, which reduces its tax liability.

It has paid only £8.6m in UK corporation tax since it launched here 14 years ago.

Other global companies, such as Amazon and Google, have taken similar steps.

Margaret Hodge, chairwoman of the Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee, said on Monday that the level of tax avoidance by multinational firms was “outrageous”.

Starbucks, meanwhile, stresses that it has always acted within the law.

A statement on its web site says: “In every country where we do business, Starbucks adheres to both the letter and spirit of the law regarding our business practices, and the UK is no exception.”

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