I always look forward to reading yet another story about how multinational corporations slither out of their tax responsibilities and was, therefore, duly amused by a piece I encountered in Al Jazeera about the world's favourite coffee shop. It appears Starbucks, while selling £643-million worth of goods in the U.K. last year, paid not a cent in corporate taxes.
Her Majesty's tax collectors are not amused. The U.K. finance ministry announced it will provide £76-million of new money to track down wealthy individuals and
companies who try to avoid paying tax. (Starbucks is by no means alone.) How much good this will do is moot. According to U.S. attorney David Spencer, consultant to Tax Justice
Network, "There is more and more evidence of the fact that
multinationals are shifting substantial income from high tax to low tax
jurisdictions. This is because the OECD's [rules] are very complex and
very difficult to enforce."
Public reaction may be more effective. Outraged Brits are calling for a boycott of Starbucks and protests at its shops. A spokesperson for the company stated, "We have listened to feedback from our customers and employees, and
understand that to maintain and further build public trust we need to do
more." Indeed—many millions of pounds more.