Moral Multi-Nationals, Politicians and Tax

Magaret HodgeMP

When politicians use the word ‘moral’, the hairs on the back of my neck start tingling and I get a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach.

And so it was when Margaret Hodge MP told executives from Starbucks, Amazon and Google:

There is a growing anger among ordinary people who pay their taxes that the system is not fair. That big corporates and the rich find ways to avoid tax. It may be legal but it is not moral.

Ms Hodge was sitting as the chairman of the Public Accounts Committee, who as a collective entity, were lambasting the executives of major corporations that had used legitimate tax reduction methods to minimise their tax liability, in the UK, and thereby maximise their profits.

Surely, doing so is the very duty of a responsible company director; their loyalty is to their company and shareholders and not towards a bail out fund supporting a profligate government and its sitting MPs.

UK tax law is drafted and passed into law by politicians. It is not international companies who build in the loopholes that make careful tax management possible; it is the politicians. Neither is it a ‘moral duty’ that we should all, willingly, offer tax to a government.

Like all good magicians, MPs will try anything to divert the eye away from where the real action is happening. In this case they are trying to create the impression that multi-national companies are responsible for our present financial mess. They are not.

Starbucks have stated they will review their present tax arrangements with the aim of making a larger tax contribution to the UK.

Ms Hodge is a director of her family owned steel business. The latest accounts show her tax aware company paid only 0.01pc tax on £2.1bn of income gained in the UK. Perhaps Ms Hodge should follow the example of Starbucks and voluntarily offer a greater share of their profit to the UK.

However, speaking as one of the ‘ordinary people’ who pays their taxes, I am very aware that I have personally gained far more from Amazon, Starbucks, and Google than I have ever gained from Ms Hodge and her hypocritical lynch mob of MPs.

(Picture courtesy of BBC Democracy Live)