Why are there protests against Vodafone? A simple guide


by Sunny Hundal    
11:01 am - November 1st 2010

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You may have heard about or noticed protestors outside Vodafone stores (across the country) asking for them to pay their £6bn tax bill.

So what’s going on, you may ask. Here is a simple Q&A for people who don’t know the whole story or are unsure what this is all about.

Where does the £6 billion figure come from?
The story first originated in the current affairs magazine Private Eye (1273, 3-16 Sept, 2010) and then spread to other outlets. Read the story here.

The issue started when Vodafone bought the German engineering company Mannesmann a decade ago for €180bn, using an offshore company in Luxembourg. Private Eye says:

An epic legal battle began, with Vodafone resisting the taxman’s efforts to get all the information on the deal and arguing through the courts that the British laws striking out the tax benefits of its deal were neutered by European law which granted, Vodafone claimed, the freedom to establish anywhere in the EU (including its dodgiest tax havens) without facing a tax bill.

The battle continued until last year when the HM Revenue & Customs’ (HMRC) head Dave Hartnett, known to be “friendly” to big multinationals, moved the case to a department more willing to cut a deal.

The fruits of these talks, conducted without consulting HMRC’s litigators and specialists in the tax law concerned on the chance of success in the courts, was a bill for Vodafone of £800m, with another £450m payable over five years and, remarkably, an agreement that the arrangement can carry on into the future with a promise of no challenge from HMRC. The Eye understands that the settlement also swept up several other Vodafone tax avoidance schemes.

The amount of money forgone is estimated to be £6 billion.

Vodafone owe money not just to the UK taxpayer but also in India, where a court rejected their appeal (reg. reqd.) and asked them to pay $2 billion in tax for buying an Indian company. The charity Action Aid says that money could feed lots of starving people in India.

But the HMRC said it was an ‘urban myth‘?
One former Revenue & Customs official familiar with the case told Private Eye it was an “unbelievable cave-in”.

As ThisisMoney.co.uk explains, the man who negotiated on behalf of Vodafone for its tax settlement – John Connors – had worked at HMRC until April 2007. When Vodafone hired him, he simply moved to the other side of the negotiating table on this matter.

As Richard Murphy said at the Guardian, days after it was announced, Osborne was promoting Vodafone in India – a visit that must have been agreed before the tax announcement was made on 23 July.

Forbes magazine blog also says there is a lot that doesn’t sit right with the issue.

The settlement also signalled a “more conciliatory approach” at the HMRC, said the Financial Times in July, and coincided with Chancellor George Osborne’s pledge to make Britain “open for business”. Osborne said the rules, demanding multinationals are more transparent about their tax structures, added too much red tape.

The watered down deal allows the HMRC to claim ‘success’ at wringing something out of Vodafone at least. No wonder they want to dismiss this as an ‘urban myth’.

Why just target Vodafone?
£6bn is 85% of the £7bn the Chancellor has cut from the Welfare bill per year to plug the deficit. If we are “all in this together”, then why isn’t the Chancellor asking companies who operate here to pay their fair share of tax if the deficit needs to be plugged now? Why hit the elderly, the disabled and the poor instead?

Vodafone is the perfect example of a system that has become biased towards powerful corporations and against ordinary people.

Even the assistant editor of This is Money says, “once more the Vodafone situation appears to show that there’s one rule for big business and one rule for the rest of us.”

Who is behind the protests?
There isn’t one organisation or group behind the protests. Everyone involved has joined in through hearing about it on blogs, Facebook and Twitter.

The idea for the first protest on Wednesday 27th Oct came to activist Thom Costello. He is not affiliated with any political party or union.

What are your other positions on…?
We all have different positions on lots of different things. But we do believe that corporate tax avoidance in the UK runs into tens of billions every year, and the government should seek to make corporations pay their taxes fairly rather than putting more strain on hard-working families and the most vulnerable in society.

How can I get involved?
This is a decentalised protest and people can get involved simply by getting together with a bunch of people in their area and taking action.

Instructions and details of upcoming actions will be posted on the UKuncut blog, Twitter and Facebook accounts.

Are more protests planned?
Yes, and you’ll have to keep an eye on those links above to find out when they will take place.

Updates to the article
Have specifically clarified that the £6bn figure is a one-off sum while the cuts to welfare are a yearly sum.

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About the author
Sunny Hundal is editor of LC. Also: on Twitter, at Pickled Politics and Guardian CIF.
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Story Filed Under: Blog ,Economy ,Fight the cuts


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Reader comments


Oh boy. Before starting on all this, have a quick look at the ECJ ruling in .Cadbury Schweppes

Read it? Slackers. Potted precis:

CFC rules are not acceptable if it can be shown by objective factors, which are ascertainable by third parties, that the CFC company in question is actually established in the overseas jurisdiction and carries on genuine economic activities there.

The internal HMRC Special Commissioners into Vodafone 2′s transaction ruled that the implications of Cadbury-Schweppes were such that the British Controlled Foreign Companies tax system (ss747 & 748 ICTA 1988) was incompatible with European law, and that the inquiry should be discontinued. HMRC appealed to the High Court. Which leads us to:

Vodafone 2 v HMRC. Where the High Court agreed with Vodafone that the CFC rules were incompatible with EU law and should be disapplied. No tax liability. HMRC appealed again. Which leads us to Vodafone 2 v HMRC in the Court of Appeal – which ruled that the CFC rules could be compatible with EU law, which means the question of Vodafone’s potential liability would be decided by the ‘actual establishment’ and ‘genuine economic activity’ tests.

Which is where we were when Vodafone and HMRC settled. The law’s in a bit of a mess (which is presumably why it’s currently being revised).

The amount of money forgone is estimated to be £6 billion pounds.

By Private Eye, in what experts call analysis – from the Greek word ysis meaning ‘pulling numbers out of’.

£6bn is 85% of the £7bn the Chancellor has cut from the Welfare bill to plug the deficit.

Jesus Sunny, time to read one of those economics books you offered me and work out just why it is that a one-off payment won’t reduce a deficit.

Wretched html. If anyone can edit all this, the unclosed tag is after ‘could’.

[deleted]

Tim J.

What do you think these protests could realistically hope to achieve? (assuming they are not merely displays of outrage to swing public opinion, but with no direct goal w.r.t. Vodafone’s tax bill)

One thing the protesters might hope to achieve is for the HMRC to rip up the negotiated settlement with Vodafone and go for more. How could HMRC get more out of Vodafone? If it went to court, what would it have to argue?

Aside from this individual case, what would be the long-term solution – how could the law be changed to close down this avenue of tax avoidance, and how sharp would the conflict with EU be?

[and if that £6bn number has little substance, how would you arrive at a better number and how would it be calculated?]

One thing the protesters might hope to achieve is for the HMRC to rip up the negotiated settlement with Vodafone and go for more. How could HMRC get more out of Vodafone? If it went to court, what would it have to argue?

I’d doubt it – if HMRC have settled with Vodafone, they’ll presumably have signed a pretty comprehensive Settlement Agreement, ‘in full and final settlement of any disputes arising…’ – that sort of thing. HMRC probably could have got a bigger pay-out from Vodafone on this but that’s the art of negotiation after all, neither party usually gets its preferred outcome.

If the case hadn’t settled, then HMRC would have had to demonstrate that Vodafone’s subsidiary wasn’t performing any genuine economic activity, and therefore didn’t fall under the new implied exception to CFC rules. If it was an entirely artificial construct used only for the purchase, then that might have been provable. We won’t know now.

Aside from this individual case, what would be the long-term solution – how could the law be changed to close down this avenue of tax avoidance, and how sharp would the conflict with EU be?

Well ultimately you can’t can you? All Vodafone did was set up a company in an EU member state and run an element of its business through it. Charging UK tax on that is about as big a breach of the freedom of establishment as I can think of. The thing to do is to draft the law sufficiently tightly that it’s hard to ‘game’ it by having wholly artificial constructs – but that’s a very fine line to tread. All in all, so long as some EU member states have lower tax rates than others, companies will take advantage of it. That’s actually less a bug than a feature of the EU.

[and if that £6bn number has little substance, how would you arrive at a better number and how would it be calculated?]

Hey, I’m a lawyer not an accountant, but the Private Eye analysis looks at all the money held in the Luxembourg company, assumes that all of it is liable for tax in the UK and then rounds it up to an even £6bn. That looks like pretty flaky analysis to me.

Tim J

should I conclude then that the best hope is for HMRC to become more aggressive perusing companies that recognize profits in low-tax territory subsidiaries that aren’t performing any genuine economic activity?

“perusing”? pursuing

Thanks Tim J, by the way. Whilst I’m irritated by people who jump straight to outrage without stopping to find out the facts of the matter, in this case at least a rough outline of the legal situation, fixating on the reasons why things are as they are can lead to something like status-quo bias. It is possible to change things. Sometimes the big picture – large companies exploiting system to reduce tax bill – is more important than the detail – law that allows it to do that. I wonder if this isn’t an example where the best thing to do is side with the protesters rather than merely explain things are as they are for a reason. (btw this is more thinking out loud that a comment on you Tim)

should I conclude then that the best hope is for HMRC to become more aggressive perusing companies that recognize profits in low-tax territory subsidiaries that aren’t performing any genuine economic activity?

The problem is that ‘genuine economic activity’ is undefined, and could quite conceivably be a pretty low barrier. Possibly the best thing to do would be to seek to settle cases as advantageously as possible, holding the threat of litigation as a last resort. The Cadbury-Schweppes case knocked a big hole in CFC rules that really hasn’t been filled.

Alternatively we could all go and picket Vodafone.
“What do we want?”
“Unspecified changes to the UK Controlled Foreign Companies tax regime!”
“When do we want it?”
“Retrospectively to apply to transactions carried out in 2001!”

Sometimes the big picture – large companies exploiting system to reduce tax bill – is more important than the detail – law that allows it to do that.

I don’t actually disagree with that. The problem is that this is less a case of a British legal loophole – the old CFC legislation covered precisely this problem very neatly. In a nutshell it was that:

The profits of the subsidiary are attributed to its UK parent for tax purposes. Exemption is, broadly speaking, available under these rules where the CFC:

is subject to at least 75% of the tax which would have been paid by a UK company;
follows an acceptable distribution policy (ADP) (although with the introduction of the new dividend exemption – see below – an ADP will no longer provide exemption);
is engaged in exempt activities (broadly speaking bona fide trading activities and certain holding companies);
has chargeable profits which are de minimis (i.e. do not exceed £50k);
falls within the Excluded Countries regulations; or
meets the motive test.

Where the motive test was (basically) that the subsidiary wasn’t designed to be a tax-avoidance vehicle.

The wrinkle with Vodafone is that it all conflicts with EU law – if the Vodafone sub had been in the Caymans it would have been caught.

10. Luis Enrique

Tim J @9 – I was making a more general “there’s a danger of not seeing wood from trees” observation rather than commenting on Vodafone per se.

11. Luis Enrique

rats – disregard #10 please, I mis-read a don’t for a do. oh for a self-delete button.

10 – in which case I can agree more whole-heartedly! Except to note that in any complex tax jurisdiction (and the UK’s is pretty damn complex) there are an awful lot of ways to minimise tax, and not all of them are preventable.

13. Biffy Dunderdale

Is this the Internet in reverse? For once the comments under the article are more informed, measured and intelligent than the article above it.

The protests will make no difference to outcome of this case. But they are worth doing. This is really about the wider issue of tax avoidance and putting pressure on government and politicians to pull their finger out and tighten up the tax regs.

It is also exposing and questioning some of the processes that sometimes might seem a tad cosy in these ‘arrangements’ – eg John Connors move from working with Hartnett and HMRC to become the tax expert at Vodafone, and in effect switching from one side of the negotiating table to the other. Not to mention the outright resistance to paying tax that seemed to be Vodafone’s main objective in dealing with HMRC.

It is only by exposing individual cases like this that there will be any hope of reducing the loss to our economy of tax that should be paid and cleaning up the system (although I am tempted to laugh up my sleeve as I type that).

This is an issue that can only be solved by international agreement.

It’s notable that corporation taxes were almost double the current UK rate in the 1980s. We have seen a race to the bottom to attract businesses. Of course, that means government revenues have to come from those taxes that cannot be avoided such as VAT and PAYE. It doesn’t really seem fair, but that’s globalisation, folks!

One should ask where the profits from this tax efficiency go? If it’s to shareholders then how much tax do they pay? There is the potential to offset the losses of corporation tax if shareholders pay tax on their extra dividends and profits. How much is this the case?

This is the future. Many large TNCs are looking to funnel UK profits into subsidiaries in low tax EU juristictions. Ireland and Switzerland where you can pay as little as 8% in corporation tax are favoured locations. Burger King and Boots, now owned by a private equity firm, have both recently relocated there.

Ultimately tax tourism is a major threat to our tax base and requires a substantive move towards EU tax harmonisation – resisted fiercely by our last PM- and an assault on tax havens. This is unlikely to happen but a prerequisite is concerted public pressure.

This programme which aired last night is a good primer to some of the problems.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b00vhgpl/File_on_4_A_Taxing_Dilemma/

Damn, I know that right-wingers rarely get off their fat arses to do any protesting, and therefore don’t understand the point, but I didn’t realise I would have to exp-lain even basic concepts.

Even if the HMRC settlement coudln’t be reversed, having the protests serve other functions:
1) they inform the public what’s going on. We hand out flyers to people, we tell them this is how the govt is letting off big business.

2) they are about creating a climate so this doesn’t carry on happening – otherwise businesses and the HMRC think no one cares and can carry on doing this.

3) It gets more people involved in the movement against the cuts, and from there on you can encourage them to take more action in the future.

This is just the start – the movement against the cuts will be long and deep. Get used top it.

Finally – I know the £6bn is a one-off payment, and I’ve not suggested otherwise.

18. Flowerpower

Cherub @ 15

One should ask where the profits from this tax efficiency go? If it’s to shareholders then how much tax do they pay?

Hey, now we’re beginning to ask some interesting questions. While we at it, why not ask whether corporations ever really pay the corporation taxes successfully levied upon them, or do they just pass them on to customers?

If so, aren’t we kidding ourselves when we think we are taxing big, rich, global corporations….. actually aren’t we just taxing ordinary working stiffs like ourselves?

19. Luis Enrique

Are these more reasons to prefer consumption, individual income (capital + labour) and things like land taxes over taxes on corporate profits? (because corporations a not real things, but legal entities which are too hard to pin down)

what would happen, for instance, if we did set our corporate tax rate at zero like (some) theoretical economics suggests? I bet very few lefties take that question seriously!

Here’s what I’d guess the instinctive lefty answer would be: wages, prices, investment and everything else staying constant, whilst shareholders enjoy higher dividends, fat cats pay themselves more, and the government suffers lower revenues. Here’s what I think the standard righty answer would be: competition would get to work, wages increase, prices fall, investment increase. Net change in government revenues, not certain. Am I right in thinking, Tim W, you think the long-run tax incidence of corporate taxation falls on workers so the distributional consequences would be benign? [This is not a bit of economics I have ever looked at].

Whilst I people without stopping to find out the facts of the case for violating the jump directly, a rough outline of the legal situation at least in this case’m allergic to, the reasons why things are as fixating on they can lead to some kind of status quo – bias. It is possible to change things. Sometimes the big picture – large system companies to exploit low tax bill – legislation that allows it to do – and more detail is more important. I wonder if this is an example where the best thing rather than side with the protesters are not only explain things as they are for a reason.

I’d just like to add my support to Tim J’s comments above. I’m an accountant and not a lawyer, and whilst I’m not an expert in tax, I know enough to agree that the Eye analysis is flaky.

They have leapt to the conclusion that all the income in the Luxembourg subsidiary is 1) untaxed and 2) would have been fully taxable in the UK.

Here’s an article that provides actual facts, notable by their absence in the hysterical Eye article:

http://www.deloitte.com/view/en_GB/uk/services/tax/322fcb51ed812210VgnVCM100000ba42f00aRCRD.htm

The Luxembourg company owned shares in the German subsidiary and had lent it money. We can’t tell how much of the £18bn income the Eye refers to arises from dividends, and how much from debt interest.

Income from a German subsidiary’s dividends would not be taxed in the UK to the extent that tax had already been paid in Germany, so that’s out as a source of the £6bn.

Income from the interest would be. However, it would also be taxable in Luxembourg, and their local rate is 21%. This is lower than in the UK. If the arrangement fell foul of the CFC rules, Vodafone would still get an allowance for foreign tax paid, so the absolute maximum we would be looking at for a UK tax bill would be about 7% of £18bn – £1.26bn. That’s very close to the settlement of £1.25bn.

Incidentally, what has been done here is to pump the German company full of debt, and so tax-deductible interest, so it looks as though the Germans might well have been done out of £6bn in tax, entirely legitmately. That is the result of foreign takeovers.

I’m speculating as well to an extent, but the Eye article completely fails to consider with any kind of proper analysis what the figure should be.

The damage is done, and no matter what they say in future people will think Vodafone have an unpaid tax bill.

Finally, despite the howls that HMRC / Vodafone would say that the £6bn is an ‘urban myth’ to cover themselves, consider this: it is also what they would say were it to be the truth.

What I really want to know is why it’s taken a decade for lefties to learn about the Luxembourg fiscal strategy and why they’re not complaining about all the other companies doing it, e.g. Amazon et al.

23. Luis Enrique

Sunny,

sometimes your auto-response is worse than Sally’s. The only right-winger on here (well, before flowerpower joined) was Tim J, and when I said to him “sometimes the big picture … is more important than the detail ….I wonder if this isn’t an example where the best thing to do is side with the protesters rather than merely explain things are as they are for a reason.” he responded with “I don’t actually disagree with that”. So who is your comment directed at?

whilst you claim to be “informing” the public, you don’t seem to be worried about the possibility of “misinforming” the public. Why doesn’t your simple guide to the situation contain a quick backgrounder on the legal situation w.r.t. EU law? Don’t you want the public to know the nature of the problem? Is “the government is letting off big business” accurate? or is “the law as it stands allows this to happen” the truth?

You talk about “creating a climate so this doesn’t carry on happening” but if you really want it to stop happening, don’t you need to go into the details of why it is happening? What exactly about the foregoing discussion of the details of this case do you object to?

Fine, your priority may be to whip up public opposition to the cuts, to the extent that you don’t care about the details. That’s dangerously close to the sort of justification that Republican could use to cover the Tea Party – never mind that they’re full of shit, what matters is that they energize opposition to Obama. But maybe you and my hypothetical Republican “understand the basics” of protest better than I do.

Interesting analysis there by Deloitte – I wonder if they’ve ever done any consulting work for Vodafone or other companies looking to avoid paying taxes through similar arrangements. Think we know the answer to that.

True – it’s impossible to know what the exact situation is, but that isn’t good enough, because it also points to the fact that companies can be very opaque about their transactions and get away without paying tax.

Bizarrely, the taxman doesn’t seem to accept an excuse from me that I don’t want to disclose my bank details or information. Good on the Indian high court for rejecting Vodafone’s excuses and hitting them with the full tax bill.

While I am totally against tax avoidance, like many Private Eye completely overestimates it. There article is a very poor piece of financial anlaysis. They confuse the income that has been paid in to Vodafone’s Luxembourg entity over several years from the continantal European operations, which has actually been taxed at 21-23% Luxembourg corportae tax with profit. Only profit is taxed not income. Profit is income minus costs which will be about half the income. Secondly, they do not convert from Euros to pounds. Finally, they quote a tax rate of 1% for Luxembourg when the rate will be in the 21-23% range I mentioned above. Then bundle all this with a Euro180bn take over of Mannesman. This was paid for in shares by a UK enity of Vodafone (V2). No tax is liable on this. What they used the Luxembourg entity was to hold Mannesman’s assets and when they disposed of most of the assets they made a capital gain but paid the Luxembourg capital gains tax which is about 7% lower than the UK rate. This is what HMRC were trying to recover. The asset sales would have had to have generated a profit of Euro129 billion (bn) to genertae a tax laibality of £6 bn. This is clearly ludicrous – for instance they made a profit of £5bn on selling Orange which mannesman valued at £20bn. Given that Manneman was valued at Euro180bn and Vodafone sold about half the company and if they made the same level of profit as they did on Orange, which is doubtfull, the tax due plus interest wiuld be about £1.25bn they ended up paying. No one knows anything for certain but these are resaonable aasumptions. We certainly should demand that the books are opened up.

But a poor bit of reporting has led people to believe that the cuts can be overcome by stopping tax avoidance when in fact the best estimates is that it will take in £25bn a year of which half is individual tax avoidance mainly through personal contributions to pensions which will hit a half of society. Much more radical measures are required such as a progressive resdistribution of wealth and taking control of the banks and Oil industry. Measures that require challenging the way society is run.

This campaign’s lack of accuray can be summed up when they equate the welfare cuts with £7bn which is in fact the additional cuts on top of a £11bn already announced.

The analysis that private eye has come with, will unfortunately put a question mark on all alternative approaches to stopping the cuts.

Luis: Why doesn’t your simple guide to the situation contain a quick backgrounder on the legal situation w.r.t. EU law?

Read the headline. In fact none of the articles that have discussed this issue have gone into EU law – not even the FT articles I’ve seen, so I’m not sure how important it is. If you want to write up a clear, concise guide to EU law on this issue be my guest. All I’ve done is summarised what’s going on, and collated information from various sources – primarily for people who are unaware of why the protests are taking place. Sorry if it doesn’t mean your technical standards but this isn’t a technical article and it’s not aimed people like yourself.

Is this the Internet in reverse? For once the comments under the article are more informed, measured and intelligent than the article above it.

Hang around, mate. Happens a lot here.

Read the headline. In fact none of the articles that have discussed this issue have gone into EU law – not even the FT articles I’ve seen, so I’m not sure how important it is.

Um. The entire basis of the dispute between HMRC and Vodafone is whether or not British tax law on Controlled Foreign Companies conflicts with EU law on freedom of establishment. That’s the beginning, middle and end of the argument. If EU law did not come into it, there is (almost) no question that this transaction would have been caught by ss 747 and 748 of ICTA.

If you want a clear, concise guide to European law on this issue, it’s right there in comment 1:

CFC rules are not acceptable if it can be shown by objective factors, which are ascertainable by third parties, that the CFC company in question is actually established in the overseas jurisdiction and carries on genuine economic activities there.

*heavy sigh* Have the Times readers finally defected from the Grauniad to LibCon? Where next: Leninology then SWP?

I wouldn’t put too much stock in Deloitte’s analysis if I were you. It has a long and colourful history of doing and saying anything that will keep the fees rolling in. See Parlamat collapse, for eg.

“It’s notable that corporation taxes were almost double the current UK rate in the 1980s. We have seen a race to the bottom to attract businesses.”

Err, no. Corporation tax *rates* were higher in the 80s. Corporation tax *paid* (yes, after inflation) was lower in the 80s. Because there were huge allowances (no, not tax avoidance, not evasion, but things that Parliament deliberately put into hte law to get companies to do what Parliament wanted) that could offset those higher tax rates.

This was all cleared up by Nigel Lawson when he slashed the allowances and cut the rates and this lead to a surge in the amount of corporation tax paid to the Treasury. You know, this taxes should be low, simple and compulsory thing?

As to the incidence of corporation tax. It most certainly isn’t the company that pays the tax. Some combination of shareholders, workers and consumers (we’ve known this for over a century).

How much gets paid by whom depends upon the relative elasticities. The smaller and more open the economy (it’s rare for consumers to pay any of corporation tax), ie, the more freedom of movement capital has as opposed to labour, the greater the portion of corporation tax is paid by labour and the lower by capital.

There is absolutely nothing at all controversial about any of the above. This is simple economics of taxation: even Murphy’s buddy at the Tax Justice Network, John Christensen, would agree with the analysis so far. As, in print, have both Vince Cable and Larry Elliott in the past year or two.

Where the controversy does creep in is exactly who bears what portion in which economy. The US CBO has estimated 70% of the US corporate profits tax is carried by US workers. As has Greg Mankiw (used to be Chair of the President’s Council of Economic Advisors).

Joe Stiglitz (Nobel Laureate and nobody’s idea of a rightist or neoliberal) made part of his name with a paper from 1980 pointing out that the burden could in fact be greater than 100%. That is that the losses to workers/shareholders could be greater than the tax actually raised.

Mike Devereux (Oxford U.) has calculated that the workers carry more than 100% of the burden. That for every £1 rasied in corporation tax in the UK British workers lose more than £1 in wages. He may be right or wrong, but given that the UK does have greater capital mobility than the US we would expect it to be higher than the US number.

All of these are long term outcomes of course: in the short term (ie, this tax year) of course it is the shareholders who pay any change in corporation tax rates (and equally, of course, whatever the split between workers and shareholders is after the long term effects of any past changes on the base rate we’re changing it from).

As I say, the basic analysis, that corporations don’t pay tax, that the economic burden is carried by some combination of shareholders and workers, the split being determined by how mobile capital is compared to workers, is not in any dispute.

Only what the split actually is in a specific and particular economy.

31. Luis Enrique

Sunny,

OK, beyond mentioning there is a conflict with EU law (which the Private Eye quote does) I accept that might be all the legal detail the OP needs. Not sure that amounts to 1. a reason to attack people who are discussing the legal details and 2. a justification for reducing the situation to “the government has let Vodafone off £6bn of tax”. If you want to inform people who don’t know anything about the situation, why can’t you inform them about the other side of the argument? Answer: because you’re not interested in being neutral. This is what puts me off protesting: by definition it’s not neutral. Which amounts to a tendency to ignore any exaggerations or problems with your side, and to ignore anything that might justify the other side. For example, the figure of £6bn could be pure bullshit, but you’re not interested, but when you come across a rightly claiming benefits scroungers cost £Xbn, you’re all over it. I suppose this is what politics is all about.

Hmm…

Finally – I know the £6bn is a one-off payment, and I’ve not suggested otherwise.

Compare

Why just target Vodafone?
£6bn is 85% of the £7bn the Chancellor has cut from the Welfare bill per year to plug the deficit. If we are “all in this together”, then why isn’t the Chancellor asking companies who operate here to pay their fair share of tax if the deficit needs to be plugged now? Why hit the elderly, the disabled and the poor instead?
Emphasis Added

Is that more of an implication, than a suggestion?

Answer: because you’re not interested in being neutral. This is what puts me off protesting: by definition it’s not neutral.

I’m not a centrist: I’m not neutral by definition. I think corporations should shoulder more of the burden than poorer people and I believe the system is heavily biased against big corporations that can spend millions to avoid taxes and get through loopholes legally. Oh and that that much of govt policy is also designed to make it easier for corporations to do this.

Please stop being absurd: this is war and I’m not on the side of the big corporate lawyers.

Lastly, I’ve not attacked anyone for discussing the details: I took issue with your absurd plea that this blog post doesn’t do the job because it doesn’t include the intricacies of EU law.

Low hanging Johan-Hari-Style-rhetorical fruit aside, the defense of the protests is just plain silly:

1) they inform the public what’s going on. We hand out flyers to people, we tell them this is how the govt is letting off big business.

2) they are about creating a climate so this doesn’t carry on happening – otherwise businesses and the HMRC think no one cares and can carry on doing this.

3) It gets more people involved in the movement against the cuts, and from there on you can encourage them to take more action in the future.

This is just the start – the movement against the cuts will be long and deep. Get used top it.

Objective 1 was basically as effective as the SWP’s regular Saturday mornings, plus a couple of news stories. At a weekend (someone needs to re-read their media management notes).

Objective 2 relies on Objective 1 working. Good luck with that.

Objective 3 is amusing, given the cross section of people who were taking part. Rough count? Say an average of 50 people at each of 21 sites? You basically mustered fewer people than one of the UAF’s big counter demos.

Personally, I suspect this is the real reason why those “organising” this action keep ignoring or brushing aside questions about the lack of an organised Vodafone boycott (the one kind of action which has the potential to cause a change in the company’s behaviour): you know perfectly well that it would fail, and fail embarrasingly, not just miserably.

MTPT – you think this is over? And you don’t think it will get bigger? I’d stop smirking this early if I was you.

Leaving aside Sunny’s obdurate insistence on ignoring the question of tax incidence, I support any protest which draws attention to the lunatic complexity of the UK tax system and prompts any move towards greater simplicity and less avoidance.

37. Luis Enrique

Sunny,

I have expressed myself poorly (although I’d have thought my meaning was clear enough). “neutral” was the wrong word. I didn’t mean “not having opinions”. I meant not letting the fact that you have opinions lead you to tolerate bullshit from your own side, and ignore merit in the other side.

“I think corporations should shoulder more of the burden than poorer people”

Sunny, please, please, try to understand this basic fact.

Corporations do not pay tax.

No, really, they don’t.

Shareholders might pay tax if you charge a corporation tax, workers might pay tax if you charge a corporation tax but then one entity we know absolutely does not pay corporation tax is the corporation.

Please, try to get your head around this very basic point about the incidence of the corporation tax. No, this isn’t rightie stuff, it’s not neoliberalism, it’s not Tim W making stuff up.

It’s just a simple fact about the world.

“Corporations do not pay tax.”

Well in a strict sense of who writes the check, they do. What you are really saying is that the burden of paying that tax falls on shareholders and workers. ;-)

@Sunny – Your problem, and that of those pushing this campaign, is quite neatly summed up in that assumption that I’m smirking about it. Why that campaign has/will fail is neatly summed up by your decision to ignore the challenges posed in my two posts, in preference for a cheap quip.

(The quip, of course, is in line with much of the rhetoric that’s being bandied around by the left – little more than retreaded 1980s class war nonsense, with “corporation” or “the rich” substituted for “the upper class”. It’s no more effective with anyone outside the core left wing than attempts to distract from Alan Johnson’s speech lacking substance by opening by talking about the Chancellor being patted on the back.)

There’s a lot of noise just now about the effectiveness of protest. How many people did the anti-war march muster? Or the pro-foxing hunting one? How much did they achieve? It’s notable that the organisers of this current campaign recognise this, try to distance themselves from it, but then fail to provide any explanation for why they should suceed instead.

People involved in this are being seduced by a narrative about social media being some kind of game changer. The belief seems to be (albeit the discourse isn’t sufficently sophisticated to use the term) that social media will somehow function as a force multiplier.

If it failed to do so in Iran – where people were prepared to chance death to protest the government’s actions – the belief it will succeed in the UK – by getting lefties to sit down in shop doorways on a Saturday morning – is interesting to say the least.

When political protest succeeds short of revolution – Poll Tax nonpayment and riots; Ghandi’s civil disobedience; the Montgomery Bus Boycott, etc. – it does so because it compromises the ability of the government to govern, either by demonstrating the government could fall (Poll Tax), denying the consent of the populis to be governed (Ghandi), or compromising the economic viability of the state (Montgomery).

Similar pressures work against organisations (Montgomery being the obvious quasi-private example) but only if there’s sufficent weight behind the campaign.

So I ask again – why no organised boycott of Vodafone’s service?

It would be interesting to read the list of Trade Unions and Labour organisations which have all banded together to ditch their Vodafone accounts. When can I expect that? Next week?

It’s fine to try and rationalise what took place this weekend as raising awareness, but you need to re-read your Mao and Guevara: at some point you have to move beyond getting people to know you exist.

A boycott is a difficult thing to make work when customers of the company in question are typically tied into contracts for between 12 and 24 months… more usually the latter with recent contracts. If I decide not to renew my Vodafone contract, that happens in 19 months time – it lacks coherence and emphasis as a protest.

(It’s worth noting that boycotts of other tax avoiders such as Boots would be more feasible.)

Long-term, maybe Vodafone’s bottom-line will suffer from losing renewals from their existing customers and not being considered by potential new customers, but in the short-term closing their stores is far more likely to hurt them financially, as well as being far more likely to raise awareness of the underlying issue of tax avoidance by large companies.

“There’s a lot of noise just now about the effectiveness of protest. How many people did the anti-war march muster? Or the pro-foxing hunting one? How much did they achieve?”

These (and the implied questions on the effectiveness of boycotts) are all massively important questions that sometimes I feel get left unanswered – but its essential they get debated and some conclusions about past campaigns get made.

So I’ll try and kick things off – what action will make vodaphone pay its fair share of tax (assuming that is the aim – which isn’t a settled matter), what do we need to achieve this action, and how do we achieve this?

I’d suggest at the very least direct action shouldn’t be the starting point, you need a wider base of activists first and try the softer methods of persuasion.

MTPT: an ‘organised boycott’ of Vodafone? Given most people are locked into long contracts? You really haven’t thought this through have you?

You also say: Why that campaign has/will fail is neatly summed up by your decision to ignore the challenges posed in my two posts, in preference for a cheap quip.

No one has denied there are challenges, but you’re just assuming things will remain the same going forward, neither do you get the points I made earlier about what the point of these protests either.

And, the Iraq war protest failed in its main mission but to say it had no impact is only something someone completely naive about politics would say.

Lastly, I believe you were making the same points around the time we attacked Rod Liddle. That was a huge failure. Oh wait…

@Denny: Was actually giving this some thought over the weekend (for a “You’re doing it wrong” style blog post I can’t be bothered to follow through on), and this is one of the things I considered.

There’s a perfectly good, very well tested model for causing Vodafone economic pain: use the allowances.

It’s really easy:

1) Match up Vodafone customers with inclusive allowances and customers of the other networks.

2) Vodafone customer makes a call to the non-Vodafone customer.

Provided the call is going outside the Vodafone network, but to number which is within the allowance package, you immediately start slicing into Vodafone’s profit margins.

If you want to finesse this, and add a level of utility, adopt on Labour’s virtual phone banking approach. This could be a great time to do a complete canvass of all those tricky wards that people have never quite finished. I’m sure the Green Party (I note several organisers are active Greens) would be grateful for the assistance.

For extra kudos points, turn the calls to some “good” end: canvass donations for charity, or make calls on behalf of cultural organisations.

Similar principles apply to inclusive bandwidth (which most people have).

It’s hardly rocket science, but it’s exactly the kind of action (unlike sit-ins in a few shops) which is going to cause Vodafone direct pain.

Vodafone won’t pay this money now – the issue has been settled. The point of the protests has to be to call attention to the general problem of corporate tax avoidance, to place pressure on politicians to make changes to the law to try to prevent it (something they’re not naturally inclined to do, mostly being very rich and hoping for jobs in well-paid board-level industry positions when their political career ends), and also to make companies factor in the indirect cost of ‘bad publicity’ when they’re choosing their ‘tax management’ strategies in future.

Matt: neat :)

The point of the protests has to be to call attention to the general problem of corporate tax avoidance, to place pressure on politicians to make changes to the law to try to prevent it.

The only way the law could be changed to prevent this loophole would be through leaving the EU. You’ve got my vote on that, but I doubt I’m a majority on here.

@Sunny: In terms of giving it thought…see above. I also suggest you read up on churn in the mobile industry as you seem to be assuming everyone’s contracts are of the same length, and all have equally long to run (clue: they don’t).

I’m not assuming things will stay the same, but I see no evidence of any genuinely strategic thinking going on here. There’s some decent operational art in terms of mobilising people, but it’s being spent on low impact tactics. If the points you made which you refer to are the three numbered ones, then see above. You ran a smallish, geographically disparate demo over a weekend. It was essentially forgotten (outside of the Guardian) this morning. In terms of awareness, you could have saved the effort, and gotten the SWP to move their stalls.

As for naivety, go back and parse what I wrote. I’m not claiming that the Anti-War demo (or the Countryside Alliance march, for that matter) had no effect. It’s a big stretch to claim any major impact that is not equally attributable to other entirely unrelated factors. The US Strategic Studies Institute recently published an excellent (and detached and empirical) analysis of the factors which affected public opinion in the US, UK and other allied states. It’s worth reading.

As for Liddle, I genuinely don’t remember what I wrote at the time (and can’t immediately find it). I suspect I was making a point about the economic effect of boycotts by people who are not real customers, but feel free to point me to it, and I’ll borrow one of your post hoc explanations… ;-)

I really don’t understand this whole ‘you’ll never stop the cuts, why bother?’ argument. What’s the alternative? Become an automaton and just unquestioningly accept any action of the state?

Sophie Scholl didn’t stop the Nazis, so would you have said the same to her?

(Unfortunately, internet commenting seems to be so reactionary that I now feel compelled to axiomatically clarify that I’m not comparing the cuts to the holocaust: I’m using a more extreme example to expose the fallacy of the argument.)

Of course I was involved in the protest because I wanted to try and resist the cuts, but it was more than that. For the most part, I protested out of the simple belief that the cuts are wrong, that they will needlessly harm already vulnerable people, and that I find them to be immoral. Whether my protestations will actually lead anywhere seemed immaterial. The fact is, I saw something happened that I believed in my heart to be wrong, and I felt unable to stand by and allow it to happen. It felt inhuman not to resist to something that I perceived to be so immoral and harmful.

I really don’t understand the argument against that.

At a simpler level, if you want to organise a boycott of Vodafone, this could be done by a public pledge not to renew contracts (and perhaps a seperate one not to consider dealing with Vodafone – a boycott by those who can) – if the potential losses of such a campaign became a concern to Vodafone’s UK operation, then this may induce some form of action on their part (whether the potential losses would equal 6 billion pounds is a slightly different matter).

But I do not see the support for this – I witnessed two traditional-lefties (sorry, but that was my reaction on seeing them) blocking the door of a branch of Vodafone, and customers just walking past them (the protesters were nicely moving out of the way – good manners, whilst making the point, which was a good aspect). Maybe people were turned away by the protests elsewhere, but I saw no public support for it in the example I passed. More to the point, I suspect most people would understand paying less tax – they would do the same themselves.

@30 & 38 Tim Worstall

Your postings always remind me of hearing Tony Benn speak. I’m always left with the feeling I’ve been bullshitted. Are you honestly suggesting that corporations avoid paying tax where they can so that they can pay their workers better?

Let’s treat that as a rhetorical question because we know you’re smokescreening for the status quo. The point made by Sunny and supported by a lot of us on the left is that we feel that if there is a crisis where some of the least well off are being forced into real hardship then those who have the means should be asked to pay more.

Of course decades of union bashing by governments of all hues may mean that corporations do not pay a fair share of their profits as wages. There are issues regarding distribution and other issues that are very complex but that doesn’t mean that progressives shouldn’t argue for change. You’ve got to start somewhere rather than just smugly argue that all’s well.

Holy hell, apologies for the grammar in my last post. Shame on me.

53. Luis Enrique

Sunny is quite right that protests are about more than imposing economic pain on Vodafone until it voluntarily decides to pay tax it doesn’t legally have to. Which is just as well, because that would be very unrealistic. It’s fine to protest in general about “the way things are” in order to build pressure for change.

Equally, I think it’s worth knowing the details of “the way things are”, including whether there is any prospect of getting Vodafone to cough up (in this case, there is not) and also because in addition to building general “pressure for change” we may wish to say how we want things to change and we need to know what we can realistically hope to change, so pressure can be applied in the right place. In this case it looks like some heavy revision of EU / UK tax law is needed.

However, I’d prefer it if protesters weren’t misinformed about what they are protesting about. Some of the argument in this thread between Sunny & I stem from his puzzling attack at 17 and about whether the OP is informing or misinforming people.

“The fact is, I saw something happened that I believed in my heart to be wrong, and I felt unable to stand by and allow it to happen.”

But none of us are saying just bow down and accept what is coming. We’re just questioning the effectiveness of the way resources are being used.

The fact is after a certain amount of time spent protesting, a significant proportion of people start to feel disillusioned if they feel nothing gets achived. Being an activist basically involves giving up your time and money, and at some point it is only human to stop and think “what am I really achieving here? It’s pissing down and frankly I’d rather be spending time with my friends and family doing X and Y”.

There just seems to be an unquestioning deference towards traditional tactics and sloganeering in several campaigns without much thinking invovled. FFS – the establishment and big business have spent decades working out how to neutralise activism through a variety of ways (PR, advertising, legal action etc) so if activists are to stand a chance we have to stay one step ahead of the enemy. There are going to be hell of a lot of things we “believe in our hearts to be wrong” occuring over the next few years, and we’ll lose far more battles if we get ourselves fatigued and burnt out now.

Lets think more carefully about it.

55. Luis Enrique

Cherub

yes I’ve often wondered why if corporations don’t pay tax why the object so vociferously to doing so. One argument is that the tax they pay is spread amongst various parties – some of whom are directors and shareholders, so they object for that reason. It’s also possible that in the short run, increases in taxation simply reduce “retained earnings” (which is what corporations care about) because it takes time for wages and prices etc. to adjust, and tax cuts increase retained earnings in the short run. If so, that would explain why corporations are always lobbying for tax cuts. That, or they don’t understand tax incidence themselves.

56. Luis Enrique

Cherub – so to repeat the question I asked at 19, if taxes on corporate profits fell to zero, what do you think that would do to the division on income between shareholders, managers and workers?

Luis,

I’ve often wondered why if corporations don’t pay tax why the object so vociferously to doing so.

Have you never been self-employed or worked in a business where you had to deal with accounts? Taxation is a cost in itself (calculating and paying it cost money) and it is a drain on reserves. Corporations may not pay tax, but they transmit it and there is cost and a timelag in transferring the burdern of taxation from the corporation to the customer/worker.

Also, I think most corporations believe they do exist as seperate entities (and seem to be legally recognised as such in the US), and so therefore that they do have their own money and pay tax. Corporations do not necessarily act according to economic theories – even if the theories are actually likely to be correct.

58. Luis Enrique

Watchman,

sure – that’s partly what I mean by the difference between short-run and long-run. The administrative cost is not about the rate, it’s about the complexity. Changes in the tax rate may change prices etc. in the long-run, but in the short turn a cut will leave you unambiguously better off, and when the long-run effects are uncertain, that’s enough reason to dislike paying taxes.

I also like the idea that company directors start to anthropomorphize their companies

@Planeshift: Couldn’t agree more. Work smarter, not harder may be trite; it’s also true.

@ElllieMae: Sophie Scholl is a difficult case. Her actions were pretty well the archetypal example of what not to do – since her death essentially had nill impact at the time (later impact is a different matter – on exactly this theme, Kim Stanley Robinson’s story “The Lucky Strike” is worth a look) – but it is difficult to see what non-violent protest could have had a contemporaneous impact.

I am expressly not saying ‘you’ll never stop the cuts, why bother?’. I personally believe that the cuts won’t be stopped, but that’s not the same as saying they couldn’t be. The circumstances probably exist for a popular movement against them, if the left could find people to lead and organise it. I see no evidence that they have them (those currently cheerleading the campaign don’t seem up to it).

As for being unable to “walk on by”, it may be inhuman, but I would always weigh how and whether I could (either alone, or together) do anything. The “how” is the bit that’s being missed or misconceived.

@Luis Enrique: A little Ends, Ways, Means would help here, but I don’t see any evidence this is being thought through at that level. Sunny’s posts seems to class publicity as a End, which it clearly isn’t.

@57 Watchman: “Corporations do not necessarily act according to economic theories – even if the theories are actually likely to be correct.”

Back in the 1980s a mathematician presented a theory that a bicycle wheel supports its load by compressive loads on the spokes. It doesn’t require a lot of experimentation to demonstrate the theory’s flaws…

Similarly, an economic theory that predicts corporate behaviour must be based on how companies act in an imperfect world in order to be correct.

I think it’s fair to say Sunny is less interested in the facts than he is in “the narrative”.

Much in the same way as I’ll be buying from each of the companies that Kate Belgrave wants us to boycott, so as to nullify any “impact” her action would have, I am also going to be signing up with Vodafone when my current contract expires next month. I don’t think you’ve all thought this one through.

Charlieman @60,

An economic theory about how the impact of tax is felt is quantitative in nature – it follows the money. It therefore does not need to take into account qualitative data such as behaviours, which would be an entirely different (and less scientific (cue laughter) branch of economics).

Good post, Sunny, and keep them coming for God’s sake. None of this stuff is getting the sort of coverage it should be.

The facts are that people are starting to make noise about these cuts and they’ve worked out pretty quickly where big business and the coalition can be hit. So let’s keep bloody well hitting them. The alternative is to sit around twiddling and to let an indulged twat like Osborne set the tone. The hell with that.

As I see it, Vodafone has voluntarily paid more tax than it should, on the basis that the Suipreme Court would also have decided against HMRC. Vodafone has donated tax to the Treasury, unlike quite a lot of prominent Lefty rentamouthers, I suspect. And we should protest about this? Of course I protest about a company misusing its profits in this way without asking the owners for permission.

“they’ve worked out pretty quickly where big business and the coalition can be hit. So let’s keep bloody well hitting them.”

Kate, I’ve already pointed out that I intend to increase my purchases from the companies you intend to boycott, and to switch my contract to Vodafone next month. How are you “hitting” the coalition and big business if your tactics are so easily nullified?

As I see it, Vodafone has voluntarily paid more tax than it should, on the basis that the Suipreme Court would also have decided against HMRC.

That might be over-stating the case a touch. What’s certain though, is that if this case hadn’t settled, it would have run on for a good few years yet, with no certainty as to its eventual outcome. It’s a perfectly reasonable decision by HMRC to seek to settle it – even if you can quibble over how good a deal they got.

68. Luis Enrique

blanco

the success of Kate’s strategy depends on people like you being rare

actually, quite a lot of other things are riding on that too.

Kate,

Good post, Sunny, and keep them coming for God’s sake. None of this stuff is getting the sort of coverage it should be.

I presume you have avoided thinking that the lack of coverage is due to the perceived lack of interest – most people are not going to engage with this sort of campaign, so even the Guardian and the Daily Mirror are not really going to do much with them. Popular campaigns generate their own interest – but there is very little I’ve seen around either the 35boycott or the Vodafone issue outside of the normal circles of twitter and websites like this – where most discussion has been academic (and where ideas for different approaches have mostly come from right wingers!).

The facts are that people are starting to make noise about these cuts and they’ve worked out pretty quickly where big business and the coalition can be hit. So let’s keep bloody well hitting them. The alternative is to sit around twiddling and to let an indulged twat like Osborne set the tone. The hell with that.

As a qualified supporter of the cuts and coalition (i.e. I reserve the right to say ‘that’s bloody stupid’ when appropriate), can I sign up to hitting big business as well? I think you are assuming that big business’ interests are the same as those of the current economically liberal government. This seems wrong to me – much big business would prefer a more regulated, centralised state, as that lessens competition.

I think that conflating the issues of cuts, a short-term political issue, with that of the existence and practices of corporations, a long-term socio-economic and political problem, is perhaps unwise. How do people like me who would like to bring down the corporations fit in with your current campaigns, since we do not automatically also oppose cuts to state spending? If you want to go for Vodafone on the basis of being a corporation and therefore likely abusing customers and society as a whole (albeit I need a better example than a tax dodge made possible by EU law) then I would like to support you – but I cannot in all conscience do this by standing next to people who have another political idea in mind and seem to want to link the problem of corporations to that of cuts in government spending.

Just to be clear – by all means protest the cuts. I’ll disagree with you (I think they have to be made). And by all means find ways of targetting corporations that abuse their power – and I’ll hope to support you. Just don’t expect me or anyone else to buy the fact that the two things are linked other than in left-wing ideology.

ukliberty – please feel free to point out which part of the above OP is actually factually incorrect. I’ll be happy to correct it.

Luis – you’ve gone from trying to argue that I’ve not included all the info about EU law to say I’m deliberately misinforming people. This is very disingenuous. Yes, this is very much about the politics. Yes, this is very much about channelling people’s anger and mobilising a movement to oppose the destruction of the welfare state as well as the social cleansing of London.

I don’t care if the usual suspects sneer – you lot are as predictable as the people who come to the streets to march. The question is whether the latter can turn this into something wider. Don’t think we’re not looking into that constantly. But don’t patronise me with your oh you emotional lefties, why can’t we just discuss politics rationally and objectively rubbish. I’ve never claimed to be a fan of that way of thinking and will never do. So don’t expect me follow those rules.

Lastly, blanco spends most of his time here complaining about how the poor Coalition is being unfairly picked on – I’d be more surprised to learn he ventures out of his house!

“The only way the law could be changed to prevent this loophole would be through leaving the EU.”

Really? I assume more countries are losing money to tax havens than are making money from them. Why is it not politically or practically feasible for the EU to move to squash this sort of thing at EU level, rather than us having to leave the EU to avoid (hah) it?

54.

OK but did you really have to reiterate the part of my post with the terrible grammar. My kingdom for an edit function!

Denny,

The only way to quash this thing at EU level is to set corporation tax EU-wide. This is feasible, but electoral suicide in a number of member states – including, I suspect, Luxembourg.

And it kind of misses the important role that competition between regions and states over issues like taxation has – it would effectively cement the advantages of Germany or Britain over Greece or Italy as a place to do business, since they have better infrastructures and lower levels of corruption and (believe it or not) state interference. This would hardly be equitable now would it?

@56 Luis Enrique

You asked, “what would happen, for instance, if we did set our corporate tax rate at zero like (some) theoretical economics suggests? I bet very few lefties take that question seriously!”

Its an interesting question that we should take seriously. Looking at current practices in major corporations one would expect huge pay increases at the top to reward their business genius. Shareholders would also benefit, workers are a good question because corporate ownership of multiple enterprises is so compex and varied. However, for my favourites the SMEs that do so much for the countries within which they reside, I expect the effects would be positive and equitable.

Of course globalisation makes this even more complex. Would this tax-free corporate giant suddenly decide to pay a Chinese worker the same as a UK one? What would the consequences be? And then we have to factor in individual taxation.

I think the position of the left may be incoherent but its not without a reasonable basis. There is exploitation of developing countries and gross profiteering despite the environmental damage being done and there is real unfairness in the distribution of welath globally. Economic arguments that there is no other way are Panglossian and remind me of the syphilitic professor towards the end of Candide still arguing that all is for the best in this, the best of all possible worlds.

We have choices but they have consequences we need to be clear about. I can’t really come up with more off the top of my head, but economic theory notwithstanding, empirical results are what count!

@58 Luis Enrique

You write, “Changes in the tax rate may change prices etc. in the long-run, but in the short turn a cut will leave you unambiguously better off, and when the long-run effects are uncertain, that’s enough reason to dislike paying taxes.”

Surely it depends what you get back from the services and goods paid for by your taxes?

76. Luis Enrique

Christos on a bikos Sunny,

I have gone from responding to your bizarre comment at 17 by defending bothering to think about the details, which included asking why your OP didn’t say more about the legal background (which in your eyes became saying the OP was no good because it didn’t go into legal intricacies) whereas I was just looking for some acknowledgment in your “simple guide” that things might not be cut and dried enough to justify portraying this as the government “letting Vodafone off tax”. Consistent with that I have questioned whether the OP informs or misinforms, via discussing about whether it is inherent in being a protester that means you don’t like to cede any ground to the other side – which has now apparently turned into an accusation of being “deliberately misleading” inside your reality distortion field.

Really, how much interest have you shown in questioning that figure of £6bn, or in finding out the legal background so that you can accurately describe to your readers the extent to which HMRC was constrained by EU law? Sod all, because as I’ve said, you’re not interested in ceding ground to the other side. A trait which is quite evident in how you conduct yourself in these comments discussions, habitually ignore any decent points your opponents make, immediately seize on anything that you think looks like scoring a point for you, and generally conduct yourself like a combatant rather than a discussant.

I don’t know what your going on about with your “emotional lefties” stuff – but yes it does look like we have differing views concerning the merits of objectivity and rationality.

77. Luis Enrique

Cherub

it might be that managers and shareholder grab an even bigger share of the even bigger pie, as you say – or it might be that their power to seize the surplus doesn’t change when taxes do, and prices and wages adjust so the surplus doesn’t change either. I guess all I’m saying is that cutting corporate taxes really might not be as antithetical to lefty goals as often assumed.

(oh and yes it does matter what you get back for your taxes, but if you are a business owner/director a short-run cut in taxes probably leaves you better off than your share of the reduced public services)

@63 Watchman: “An economic theory about how the impact of tax is felt is quantitative in nature – it follows the money. It therefore does not need to take into account qualitative data such as behaviours, which would be an entirely different (and less scientific (cue laughter) branch of economics).”

It appears to me that you propose a model that might have two results. The first is fixed (if people do not change, tax will raise X) and the second is malleable (ie it assumes behavioural change).

We know that the second result will always occur, so why put so much emphasis on the first? I appreciate that it gives ball park numbers for any tax measure, but the money raised in Year 1 will not be there in Year 2.

But thanks for making me think.

Sunny,

ukliberty – please feel free to point out which part of the above OP is actually factually incorrect. I’ll be happy to correct it.

Its premise is incorrect: “Vodafone owes £6bn”.

There is also a sin of omission in terms of the lack of background detail Tim J contributed @1.

@50

perhaps a seperate one not to consider dealing with Vodafone – a boycott by those who can

I can sign up to that. My contract has finished and I priced up costs of different networks last month. Vodafone came out with the best deal. Not one I shall be going for now of course.

There is simply nothing good that can be said for corporation tax. Out of all the taxes that can be imposed it is the worst of the lot and the loss of utility leaves us all worse off.

To pay corporation tax the money must come from one of only three ways. It must come from customers, in the higher prices they pay for the things they buy; from the businesses own employees in wages that are lower than they otherwise would be; or from the businesses shareholders, in lower rate of return on their investment. No matter from which sources it comes, or in what proportion, corporation tax is harmful to production, to purchasing power, and to investment.

So if you are in favour of corporation tax you also support lower production i.e. higher unemployment. You support lower purchasing power which also leads to higher unemployment. Every pound spent is a pound of income for someone else. You support lower investment which can only lead to higher unemployment. Perhaps we should rename it the employment tax.

The burden always falls to an extent on investors in the sense that their return on investment is less than it would be if there were no tax. If their dividends are taxed then they are being double taxed on the same investment. Hmmm I wonder if this is why so many firms go for debt financing rather than equity financing? Very serious politicians with a straight face then give speeches about overleverage in the corporate sector. One would think the morons would be able to work it out by now.

Businesses who want to stay in business need to make an after tax profit. Therefore, corporation tax will be incorporated as one of the costs of production. The production costs will be absorbed in the prices charged for the company’s goods and services, and in lower wages, including conditions of the work environment. Furthermore, all competition in the same line of business are facing similar costs. Therefore, prices and costs will tend to stabilise at a point which will produce an after tax profit. Otherwise that industry would not be able to access new capital at a price that makes investment to return a yield worthwhile.

Who bears the burden between capital, labour and consumers depends on the type of industry. Who would gain if the tax was abolished? If you think about a highly competitive industry like retail then businesses would cut prices. Less would go on higher nominal wages and higher dividend yields. However, workers are consumers too and so are investors. Therefore, workers would have a rise in their real wage. If the industry tended to be one with strongly organised labour, or the workers had highly demanded skills, the share going in higher wages would increase. Most of the gain from abolishing the tax would go to shareholders if the industry was neither competitive, demanded skilled workers or had organised labour.

Therefore, one has to conclude the correct rate for corporation tax is zero.

To simplify the argument, Richard W, you propose that corporation taxes do not work. Which means that we have to raise income from consumers. Consumers are easily resentful. How do you manage those fistfuls of angry consumers?

@Sunny throw petty insults at me all you like, but the fact of the matter is that simply by buying stuff from these companies you hate, I nullify your protest and render you a laughing stock.

“To simplify the argument, Richard W, you propose that corporation taxes do not work. Which means that we have to raise income from consumers. Consumers are easily resentful. How do you manage those fistfuls of angry consumers?”

No…corporation taxes work just fine. The workers think that the corporations are paying the taxes when in fact it is the workers who are paying that tax (in large part).

If you were a lover of high tax, a desirer of a large state, but mindful of the way in which the populace might actually demand something for what they’re paying, you’d say this worked just fine.

Which is why small state peeps like me love pointing out who actually pays corporation tax. It’s a stealth tax, see?

earwicga at 80

that’s your choice to go with a worse deal for a mobile subscription….but just remember that everytime you push a call to another network or to a fixed line or to another country, that BT is making money from you. How will you handle the seething outrage?

Good day

ukliberty: Its premise is incorrect: “Vodafone owes £6bn”.

My answer above was of course to the question ‘where does the £6bn come from?’ and I answered that. Some of you don’t like it – fine. Some dispute it – fine. But the OP is manifestly still true and it stands fine as it is. Given that none of you can actually disprove the Private Eye estimation since you aren’t privy to the figures either, it simply comes down to personal bias on which argument you find more compelling.

Hope that clears it up.,

82. Charlieman

‘ To simplify the argument, Richard W, you propose that corporation taxes do not work. Which means that we have to raise income from consumers. Consumers are easily resentful. How do you manage those fistfuls of angry consumers? ‘

My objection Charlieman about the British tax system is that we are taxed badly. I don’t really have strong views about the tax ratio. Most folks views about that are really about what kind of society we want to live in. Contrary to what some people believe we are not highly taxed in the UK. Although the burden is rising as it is elsewhere we are in the middle.
http://www.ekonomifakta.se/en/Facts-and-figures/Taxes/Taxes-and-GDP/Tax-as-a-percentage-of-GDP/

We could not abolish the corporation tax without a radical reform of the whole tax system. Firms would just use corporate equity as a refuge from the individual income tax and uninvested surpluses would needlessly accumulate.

I favour radically simplifying the tax system with the state collecting revenue from a LVT, Pigouvian taxes and consumption taxes. If we really want to punish people for having capital well we could also continue with a tax on dividends. How much we want the state to collect is down to how much we want the state to do. Regardless of what I believe, in a world of mobile capital the writing is on the wall for corporation taxes. They will simply be arbitraged away.

Sunny – no, see Chris T at 21. He demonstrates conclusively that Private Eye’s figure is far too high.

The interesting point to me here is that Vodafone’s real actions have been to enrich the UK taxpayer at the expense of the German taxpayer (since the German subsidiary is artificially loss-making, whereas all dividends are paid out of fully-UK-taxed profits made at the UK parent company), as with nearly all UK-registered multinationals.

This is a point worth making again and again and again: in the long term, a public limited company that’s registered in the UK can’t avoid paying UK corporation tax, because the only way it can make dividend payments to shareholders is by distributing the UK-registered parent company’s (taxed) retained profits to them.

All it can do is delay the payment of tax, which also means delaying making any payments to its shareholders. Clearly, if companies all did this forever, there’d be no point in being a shareholder as you’d never get any money back – the only reason a company exists is to make returns for its shareholders.

Private limited companies and subsidiaries of foreign companies *can* dodge UK corporation tax (as with the Burger King and Boots examples above, not to mention everyone’s favourite tax-dodging crook Phillip Green), by making payments to offshore companies which ensure the UK subsidiary is always loss-making. But if a parent company is registered in the UK, that simply isn’t possible.

(this is precisely why there’s a trend to re-incorporate UK companies in low-tax states – recent examples include Shell, Experian and Shire. Now, *that* might be a boycott campaign worth bothering with…)

john b – not exactly. Once again – no one knows the ins and outs of this transaction (which is part of the problem – corporate opaqueness). And frankly I wouldn’t trust the Deloitte briefing at all given the… hera feri (it’s an Hindi phrase) they’ve been up to over the financial crisis and beforehand.

“the success of Kate’s strategy depends on people like you being rare”

In this case you can measure the amount of boycotting needed to make vodaphone change their mind. They gain X billion (whatever X actually is – we don’t seem to agree on that) from the alleged tax dodge. However by doing the tax dodge they lose £Y from a subsequent boycott. So to truly hit them where is hurts Y needs to be greater than X.

@Sunny: But you trust an unnamed HMRC source who briefs Private Eye, and are happy to see a campaign founded on it? Right… and this after the mess the Guardian got itself in over Tesco (almost an order of magnitude out *and* identifying the wrong tax).

[I more and more wonder if Telefonica's corporate affairs team hasn't taken a leaf from BAe's book, and covertly delivered a PR masterclass.]

@Planeshift: Not really – given this was a one off tax charge (I note Sunny’s yet to come back with an explanation of where the “85% of the £7bn the Chancellor has cut from the Welfare bill per year” is going to come from next year, and the year after, and seq.) for a major disposal. It could work against Alliance Boots, especially given their ownership and the remaining acquisition debt (the one thing their owners would worry about would be a hit to their cash flow).

Sunny: I’m fully aware of *exactly* how firms dodge tax, and I have no respect for Deloitte – but given Vodafone’s filings in Luxembourg, there’s no way PE’s guess could possibly be true.

Planeshift is right that a Boots boycott, given the highly leveraged and thoroughly tax-dodgy-y way that Boots is structured, would be more deserved and more effective (aside from anything else, it’s owned by an Italian “entrepreneur” and not by our pension funds, as well as making all its actual money from UK ill people).

Sunny, you’re entitled to your own opinion, but not your own facts.

I started reading through this thread and realised there were a number of things to take issue with so here goes…

Re post 1:

You obviously didn’t read this bit in the Private Eye article:

“VIL’s accounts show that, up to March 2009, €15.5bn income was stuffed into the company, suggesting it is now heading to the €18bn mark and resulting in £5bn in lost tax and interest so far. But, armed with strong advice from eminent legal counsel, tax inspectors were confident they could win the cash back, not least because until 2004 the scam was run through the Luxembourg company’s Swiss branch. This of course was not even in the EU (although that year Luxembourg changed its own rules to allow the trick to work without inconveniencing tax avoiders with the need for an Alpine branch). Officials were further emboldened last year when the court of appeal ruled that British laws striking out the avoidance scheme could conform with European laws.”

—–

“The Eye understands that the settlement also swept up several other Vodafone tax avoidance schemes.
The bill for all other taxpayers in lost tax is likely to be at least £6bn. Resentment within the HMRC ranks is high and one former official familiar with the case described it as an “unbelievable cave-in”.”

Regarding your point:
“By Private Eye, in what experts call analysis – from the Greek word ysis meaning ‘pulling numbers out of’.”

This must be one of the oldest tactics in the book. When you can’t take on the argument directly, attack the publication.

==========================================

Re post 2:

“Alternatively we could all go and picket Vodafone.
“What do we want?”
“Unspecified changes to the UK Controlled Foreign Companies tax regime!”
“When do we want it?”
“Retrospectively to apply to transactions carried out in 2001!” ”

Admittedly this won’t be as snappy as generally desired at these things but how about:

“What do we want?”
“HMRC to take Vodafone to court to at least attempt to get this £6bn.”
“When do we want it?”
“Already but now will do!”

==========================================

Re post 21:

“They have leapt to the conclusion that all the income in the Luxembourg subsidiary is 1) untaxed and 2) would have been fully taxable in the UK.”

You’re another one who ignored this bit in the Private Eye article:

“VIL’s accounts show that, up to March 2009, €15.5bn income was stuffed into the company, suggesting it is now heading to the €18bn mark and resulting in £5bn in lost tax and interest so far. But, armed with strong advice from eminent legal counsel, tax inspectors were confident they could win the cash back … Officials were further emboldened last year when the court of appeal ruled that British laws striking out the avoidance scheme could conform with European laws.”

My point is that it’s tax inspectors and officials that the information comes from, not Private Eye guessing at it.

“Here’s an article that provides actual facts, notable by their absence in the hysterical Eye article:”

The Eye article does provide actual facts, with space constraints. And what exactly is it that makes the article “hysterical”?

“I’m speculating as well to an extent, but the Eye article completely fails to consider with any kind of proper analysis what the figure should be.”

Just how long would you like the article to be?

“The damage is done, and no matter what they say in future people will think Vodafone have an unpaid tax bill.”

Well, they do!

==========================================

Re post 22:

“What I really want to know is why it’s taken a decade for lefties to learn about the Luxembourg fiscal strategy”

Since when is a requirement of being a “leftie” to know about every tax dodge going? Secondly, you don’t actually know what everyone with left-leaning views knows or doesn’t know. Thirdly, the reason why it’s really come up now is because in just this one case it is so much money.

“and why they’re not complaining about all the other companies doing it, e.g. Amazon et al.”

Well write an article about it as Private Eye has done and perhaps they will.

==========================================

Re post 25:

“Finally, they quote a tax rate of 1% for Luxembourg when the rate will be in the 21-23% range I mentioned above.”

Why do you think that you’re right on this and the Eye wrong? This is clearly a complicated issue which is why I’m not even going to try and argue the tax details, so for me this comes down to the issue of whether I trust the Eye to have got it right or not. I’ve decided that I do. They certainly seem confident about it: in the following issue on the first inside page they mentioned it again.

“Secondly, they do not convert from Euros to pounds.”

Sure they do: “VIL’s accounts show that, up to March 2009, €15.5bn income was stuffed into the company, suggesting it is now heading to the €18bn mark and resulting in £5bn in lost tax and interest so far.”

==========================================

Re post 65:

“As I see it, Vodafone has voluntarily paid more tax than it should, on the basis that the Suipreme Court would also have decided against HMRC. Vodafone has donated tax to the Treasury, unlike quite a lot of prominent Lefty rentamouthers, I suspect. And we should protest about this? Of course I protest about a company misusing its profits in this way without asking the owners for permission.”

Ignoring the general crapness of this post, why do you think the Supreme Court would have found in favour of Vodafone when, according to the Eye article, “armed with strong advice from eminent legal counsel, tax inspectors were confident they could win the cash back”?

==========================================

Re posts 62 and 66:

“Kate, I’ve already pointed out that I intend to increase my purchases from the companies you intend to boycott, and to switch my contract to Vodafone next month. How are you “hitting” the coalition and big business if your tactics are so easily nullified?”

Firstly, why would you do this, and secondly, don’t you feel rather childish doing this?

==========================================

Re post 67:

“It’s a perfectly reasonable decision by HMRC to seek to settle it – even if you can quibble over how good a deal they got.”

It’s hardly quibbling when we’re talking about £5bn or £6bn!

Matt, nice try with the Switzerland thing.

However, this is about freedom of establishment. And the freedom of exstablishment rules, while they are indeed EU derived, cover not just the EU but also the European Economic Area. Meaning that they include Iceland, Liechtenstein and Switzerland.

So that particlar point of yours doesn’t stand I’m afraid.

You obviously didn’t read…

Of course I sodding read it. It’s irrelevant though. The only part of this that matters is whether HMRC have a legal case that CFC rules should apply to this subsidiary. The Court of Appeal have overturned the previous ruling that it was impossible for them to apply, but the threshold for qualifying for an exemption – that there should be ‘genuine economic activity’ in the business looks remarkably low.

I would be surprised too if legal counsel were massively confident that they would be able to demonstrate that a company that manifestly exists, and was clearly sufficiently robust that part of Vodafone’s original case was that it passed the motive test (ie: was set up for reasons other than tax avoidance) displayed no ‘genuine economic activity’ when that test has never been defined, and never been tested in court.

Private Eye can say what it likes about the revenues and profits of the Luxembourg sub. Thanks to Cadbury Schweppes, which I note is not mentioned in the article, it is extremely hard for HMRC to enforce its CFC rules in any EU subsidiary. And when the Eye says “Vodafone claimed, the freedom to establish anywhere in the EU (including its dodgiest tax havens) without facing a tax bill” (presumably meaning “without being subject to UK CFC rules”) they were more or less correct – that’s what the High Court found, and that’s more or less (given the ‘genuine economic activity” test) what the law is now.

Private Eye is a pretty good investigative newspaper a lot of the time. What it’s not, however, is an authority on the law.

@Matt: As Tim J says above. You’re doing exactly what you accuse him of – failing to read what’s been written. Take, for example, the key Eye quote you rely on:

…armed with strong advice from eminent legal counsel, tax inspectors were confident they could win the cash back.

In case you need it spelling out for you – and I’m not sure you do, as I suspect from what you’ve written that you are wilfully ignoring it – this advice would have been given before the case began. In other words, the Special Commissioners disagreed with the advice and found in favour of Vodafone, as did the High Court on appeal.

It is possible, of course, that the Court of Appeal might have disagreed. For reasons which Tim J has set out above, this is unlikely. It is possible that the Supreme Court might have disagreed, but – for those same reasons – it is equally possible that taking the case that far would have established the Court of Appeal’s decision on genuine economic activity as part of the Supreme Court’s jurisprudence – effectively denying HMRC any possibility of claiming tax in similar circumstances in future.

That last is a factor that needs to be stressed – both HMRC and Vodafone had an incentive not to run the risk of taking the case that far, to avoid such a binding precedent, but it was HMRC who would have had to take the next appeal, and HMRC who decided not to do so.

Nobody starts (or atleast nobody should start) litigation unless their advisors believe they have some chance of success. Commercial organisations – and the tax authorities are in this bracket, when they are expending public money in order to recover alleged tax liabilites – should go further, and weigh the costs of taking action against the potential proceeds.

It’s that calculation, coupled with the broader risks arising from a decision against them in the Court of Appeal, and the new government’s desire to realise tax revenue *now*, rather than hope for revenue years down the line, which drove the HMRC deal with Vodafone after the High Court decision.

It further bears saying that the Eye is relying on a briefing from a senior HMRC source. Such a source, to have knowledge of the case, was likely involved in it. Any such person – like an eminent tax counsel proven wrong in court! – has an incentive to argue that a further appeal might have produced a different result. Yet people are happy to take that HMRC source at face value, despite his/her likely interest in presenting the facts in a positive light, whilst claiming – without any evidence – that HMRC did a deal with Vodafone because the Chancellor or other senior ministers acted improperly to favour Vodafone.


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    RT @libcon: Why are there protests against Vodafone? A simple guide http://bit.ly/cfOP0D

  80. Making Vodaphone pay | Left Futures

    [...] made by Private Eye and financial website, thisismoney, and you can read an excellent summary at Liberal Conspiracy. The recruitment by Vodaphone of a senior tax inspector to win their case is a sadly typical but no [...]

  81. GuyAitchison

    RT @hangbitch: Simple guide to Vodafone protests: http://bit.ly/d5hFaj #ukuncut V good

  82. Denny

    RT @hangbitch: Simple guide to Vodafone protests: http://bit.ly/d5hFaj #ukuncut V good

  83. Leighton Cooke

    RT @hangbitch: Simple guide to Vodafone protests: http://bit.ly/d5hFaj #ukuncut V good

  84. Lottie Lodge

    RT @hangbitch: Simple guide to Vodafone protests: http://bit.ly/d5hFaj #ukuncut V good

  85. Wendy Maddox

    RT @libcon: Why are there protests against Vodafone? A simple guide http://bit.ly/cfOP0D

  86. Peter Thomas

    RT @lambertvictoria: RT @GreenJennyJones: Sunny Hundal's guide about Vodaphone's tax bill being waived by ConDem gov: http://bit.ly/aQH4LB

  87. L DTUC

    RT @libcon: Why are there protests against Vodafone? A simple guide http://bit.ly/cfOP0D

  88. tony hatfield

    Why are there protests against Vodafone? A simple guide | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/jsUcaiL via @libcon

  89. William Jones

    RT @hangbitch: Simple guide to Vodafone protests: http://bit.ly/d5hFaj #ukuncut V good

  90. Wendy Maddox

    RT @sunny_hundal: I've written a guide to why protests are taking place against Vodafone and why it stinks http://bit.ly/cfOP0D

  91. Staffordshire UNISON

    RT @sunny_hundal: I've written a guide to why protests are taking place against Vodafone and why it stinks http://bit.ly/cfOP0D

  92. Ewen Cook

    Why are there protests against Vodafone? A simple guide http://t.co/ghSm9BM

  93. Nation-wide Vodafone block-outs show the potential of anti-cuts protests | openDemocracy

    [...] [...]

  94. Tax Evodafone « Cubik's Rube

    [...] haven’t paid £6 billion in tax which it’s estimated they should have done. Some people aren’t too happy with [...]

  95. One rule for the rich, another for the poor? « Another Kind Of Mind

    [...] by any number of hugely wealthy multinational corporations (such as… ooh, I dunno… Vodafone, perhaps?); well, you can imagine the irate press releases and expensively embarrassing court cases [...]

  96. Making Vodafone Pay « MTPT

    [...] if you spot an elegant solution, it’s best not to mention [...]

  97. The Daily Quail

    This is a good summary of Vodafone tax situation: http://bit.ly/d5hFaj Can't help but feel more ire should be directed at HMRC too, though.

  98. suzanne moore

    RT @DailyQuail: This is a good summary of Vodafone tax situation: http://bit.ly/d5hFaj Can't help but feel more ire should be directed a …

  99. Walton Pantland

    RT @DailyQuail: This is a good summary of Vodafone tax situation: http://bit.ly/d5hFaj Can't help but feel more ire should be directed a …

  100. Kevin Barry

    RT @DailyQuail: This is a good summary of Vodafone tax situation: http://bit.ly/d5hFaj Can't help but feel more ire should be directed a …

  101. Heather

    RT @DailyQuail: This is a good summary of Vodafone tax situation: http://bit.ly/d5hFaj Can't help but feel more ire should be directed a …

  102. FreeArtLondonList

    RT @DailyQuail: This is a good summary of Vodafone tax situation: http://bit.ly/d5hFaj Can't help but feel more ire should be directed a …

  103. An open invitation to one of the country’s leading tax experts

    [...] other bits were interest: which, so I’m told, would have been taxed in Luxembourg at 21%. Meaning that again, it’s only the difference [...]

  104. Diary date – 4th December – Mass action against Corporate Tax Dodgers | realsociology

    [...] private eye and this blog post from the liberal conspiracy for more [...]

  105. Jonathan Hinds

    Over the years, Vodafone has avoided around £6 billion in UK tax. That's 85% of the annual £7 billion cuts in welfare http://bit.ly/cAKrIk

  106. Cosmodaddy » Blog Archive » Students Continue Opposing the State

    [...] for pennies in the gutter; the government wants to cut bank taxes by £1.4bn; they’ve let Vodafone off around £6bn of tax; and were quick to rustle up €3.8bn to go directly to Ireland’s failed [...]

  107. Greg Draven

    Vodafone and their 6bn tax dodge… http://liberalconspiracy.org/2010/11/01/why-are-there-protests-against-vodafone-a-simple-guide/

  108. dan hancox

    i just paid my taxes today, vodafone owe £6bn in tax http://bit.ly/cAKrIk. "we're all in this together". 12pm sat: come and join #demo2011

  109. Tony

    Why are there protests against Vodafone? A simple guide | Liberal Conspiracy http://su.pr/28CVDq

  110. Charlie B

    Why are there protests against Vodafone? A simple guide | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/oMVQamp via @libcon #ukuncut

  111. Alex Hogben

    @GraceHorrocks http://t.co/3Akqujy – That explains it much better than me! It isn't just vodafone, though, not by a long shot.

  112. Christopher Riley

    Has sacked off Vodafone due to their unpaid £6bn tax bill. http://t.co/Vr4sPpX

  113. Chris Bertram

    @TimBertram No point in u going on about tax law when issue is not law but enforcement. See http://t.co/rr8X8AY

  114. Jo Barnes

    @Weedinho http://t.co/ypjwytEx Enjoy. :)

  115. The Empire of things: our mobile and our dehumanisation | Richard Hall's Space

    [...] in China, which supply Apple, of game-farming in virtual sweatshops for western clients, of alleged tax avoidance by mobile phone operators against the common good. Yet the webs of Empire, its transnational circuits of raw materials, value [...]

  116. If Vodafone were as Good at Customer Service as at Tax Evasion… « Bobby Shaftoe's Gone to Sea

    [...]  Why are There Protests Against Vodafone, a Simple Guide [...]

  117. Lauren Mooney

    @rantingtoph Sorry I only just saw this! They dodged about £6 billion in tax. http://t.co/JHi7APJV Not ideal.





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