UK lawmakers question Google, Amazon and Starbucks over tax avoidance

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by CBR Staff Writer| 12 November 2012

The firms will also be questioned about their decision to develop their European businesses exterior of the UK to shun paying full UK tax

Google, Amazon and Starbucks are being probed by UK lawmakers for using complex accounting methods avoid tax liabilities in the country.

UK government's financial affairs monitoring agency, the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has questioned the companies' decision to have their businesses outside the country to help them avoid paying taxes.

The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has called the firms to give proof in the midst of increasing public outrage over tax evasion by large international firms.

PAC questioned Google UK chief executive Matt Brittin, Amazon public policy director Andrew Cecil and Starbucks chief financial officer Troy Alstead as well as UK managing director Kris Engskov.

PAC committee chair Margaret Hodge told the Guardian: "Most of these companies proclaim a strong corporate responsibility ethos, yet the most basic responsibility they have is to pay their fair share into the common purse."

"The fact that they create jobs is an absurd argument," Hodge said.

During the questioning, Starbucks has conceded that the Dutch government has signed a special tax deal on its European headquarters, which earns it royalty payments from its UK operations.

Amazon and Google have also conceded that the companies use European tax jurisdictions whch favour their UK operations.

Amazon is particularly questioned for its registered base in Luxembourg, at which it generated £3.3bn of sales in the UK during 2011while not paying any corporation tax.

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