British lawmakers today accused Starbucks, Google, Amazon, and other major global companies of immoral tax avoidance, with Parliament's public accounts committee saying the government should "get a grip" on multinationals that exploit tax laws to move profits generated in Britain to offshore domains. The companies "are getting away with paying little or no corporation tax here," the committee's chairwoman said. "This is outrageous and an insult to British businesses and individuals who pay their fair share."
Companies operating in Europe can base themselves in, and take advantage of the tax rates of, any of the 27 EU nations. Starbucks, for example, chose The Netherlands and pays British tax only after transferring large sums to its Dutch headquarters. Amazon, meanwhile, has managed to pay just $2.9 million in taxes on $332 million in profits in 2011. The committee said executives from the three companies had been "unconvincing and, in some cases, evasive" during questioning. Starbucks said today that it would re-examine its tax practices in the UK, in an effort to "build public trust."