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Britain to clamp down on corporate tax avoidance

By JILL LAWLESS Published: December 4, 2012
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“All three companies accepted that profits should be taxed in the countries where the economic activity that drives those profits takes place,” the lawmakers' report said.

“However, we were not convinced that their actions, in using the letter of tax laws both nationally and internationally to immorally minimize their tax obligations, are defensible.”

Amazon said in a statement that it “pays all applicable taxes in every jurisdiction that it operates within.”

“Amazon EU serves tens of millions of customers and sellers throughout Europe from multiple consumer websites in a number of languages dispatching products to all 27 countries in the EU,” it said. “We have a single European Headquarters in Luxembourg with hundreds of employees to manage this complex operation.”

Google declined to comment Monday, but its British chief, Matt Brittin, said last week that the company “plays by the rules set by politicians.”

“The only people who really have choices are politicians who set the tax rates,” he told Channel 4 News.

Starbucks, whose outlets have been targeted by the protest group U.K. Uncut, said in a statement that it had “listened to feedback from our customers and employees, and understand that to maintain and further build public trust we need to do more.”

“As part of this we are looking at our tax approach in the U.K.,” said the coffee firm, which has more than 700 outlets in Britain. “The company has been in discussions with (Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs) for some time and is also in talks with the Treasury.”

Britain, France and Germany have called for the world's largest economies to do more to collaborate to fight tax evasion, particularly in online commerce.

Osborne said Monday that Britain and the U.S. had signed an agreement on sharing tax information that would help Britain tackle offshore evasion.

He has also said he will make tax issues a priority when Britain takes its turn as leader of the G-7 and G-8 groups of nations next year.


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