Business taxes ought to be simpler, say readers

BUSINESS TAXES should be replaced by a simpler, single levy on distributed income, according to Accountancy Age readers.

Of the 50 polled, about 80% agreed a single levy should be imposed, with the remaining 20% dissenting.

The taxation of major international corporations has been thrown into sharp focus in recent months after it emerged companies including Starbucks, Amazon and Google had used tax avoidance arrangements to drive down their tax bills.

The trio was called before the public accounts committee, where their representatives were criticised for failing to pay a “just tax” and accused of being “immoral”.

Google’s European base is in Dublin and is administered from Bermuda, while its revenue in the UK was £396m in 2011, with £31m profit and £6m corporation tax paid.

Starbucks’ global CFO Troy Alstead told the committee that in the 15 years the coffee house had been operating in the UK, it had only been profitable in 2006. In that year, it paid £8.6m in corporation tax.

Amazon director of public policy Andrew Cecil was roundly criticised by the committee for his lack of “serious” responses, and was told a more senior executive would be summoned in his stead.

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