Companies should reveal tax bills, says Umunna

BUSINESSES should be compelled to publish their tax bills, according to proposals from the shadow business secretary.

Chuka Umunna suggested the shake-up after controversies surrounding the tax affairs of a small number of major companies had damaged the image of the “overwhelming majority”, including the relationship between businesses and the rest of society, he said.

He told The Telegraph: “The perception of UK companies has become characterised by the more extreme examples which is grossly unfair on the overwhelming majority of businesses in this country who are making a huge contribution to the exchequer.

“To put it in context … in the tax year 2010/11, business paid £163bn in tax [in Britain]. That is the equivalent to the defence, education and transport budgets for this financial year.”

The MP for Streatham’s comments come just days after UK Uncut were granted permission to challenge HM Revenue & Customs in the High Court, over a so-called ‘sweetheart’ deal with international investment bank Goldman Sachs.  It was also revealed last week Vodafone had paid no corporation tax in the UK after it offset capital expenditure against its tax bill.

The telecoms giant could face further public ire this week as shareholders vote on whether to press on with a £1.1bn bid for Cable & Wireless Worldwide.

There has been speculation Vodafone sees the acquisition as desirable, partly due to its tax liabilities, but it vigorously denies that is the case.

Umunna said he would like to see companies publish their tax affairs in a way that would be simple for everyone to read, not just tax experts and accountants.

He encouraged shadow chancellor, Ed Balls, to declare annually how much the public purse receives from British business as a whole, but stopped short of calling for employers’ national insurance contributions, business rate and fuel taxes.

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