Amazing extent of tax avoidance by large companies

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From: Coun Nader Fekri JP (Labour & Co-op, Calder Ward), Cheetham Street, Hebden Bridge.

WHILE the Government’s announcement that it will be spending £77m on tax inspectors to chase £2bn in tax every year, is to be welcomed, I fear that given the scale of the tax gap is a staggering £32bn, many more than the proposed 2,500 tax inspectors will have to be employed to ensure that tax law is properly enforced.

The extent of corporate tax avoidance is amazing, Starbucks has had sales of £3bn for the past 14 years and paid only £8.4m in corporation tax, and nothing at all for the past three years. Google has had UK sales of £2.5bn, but paid only £6m tax; Amazon, reported revenues of £3.2bn, but paid less than £2m tax, that’s a rate of less than one per cent.

The problem is not confined to overseas companies; last week we found out that Premier League football clubs paid only £3m in corporation tax, despite making more than £150m profit, a rate of two per cent. The scale of this tax delinquency can be seen when compared to the rates of tax paid by some other retailers such as John Lewis (35 per cent); M&S (27 per cent), and Next (26 per cent).

As citizens we must put pressure on the Government, through our MPs, to tighten up tax laws, name and shame these shirkers, and go after them with the same vim and vigour they show “benefit cheats”.

However, as consumers we also have real power, if we only spend with companies who pay the full rate of UK tax, our purchasing power would swiftly force change, as has been the case with Starbucks offering, an albeit measly, £20m to the HMRC.

From: Graham Lund, Girvan, Scotland.

IT is not so long since a famous high street retailer clearly stated that over 97 per cent of their clothing was made in Britain.

Since then, British textile manufacturing has diminished to a frightening degree. Yes, the market has developed. The marriage of food and non-food in the same outlets is more widespread to the point where one of two major supermarkets originating in West Yorkshire is a contender for the biggest UK clothes retailer.

Coincidentally there has been a growth in the mainstream supermarkets’ offering of premium, own-label foods to prise away high spenders from the same image conscious shop which so successfully sold quality British knitwear which lasted and inspired repeat sales.

A recent shopping trip revealed that there is a minor revival in Yorkshire’s presence on the clothing shelves.

Scarves and suits are now on sale in the high street at the same firm which previously sold so much produced in England’s top county. The maker’s name is shown on each garment. May we now see the two pretenders to the progenitor’s once unassailable crown show some faith in the remnants of the textile sector and design, make and sell robust, stylish clothing made proudly and profitably in Yorkshire and also in the Scottish Borders?

A small premium may apply, but Henry Ford believed that if you pay workers well enough they can afford to buy what they make.

From: Trevor Walshaw, Millmoor Road, Meltham.

I WAS very disappointed with Tom Richmond’s concluding remarks (Yorkshire Post, December 8).

As a 74-year-old, I feel very strongly that the generation now in or approaching their twenties has had a very raw deal from the political establishment over the last 20 years.

A few weeks ago, a young man knocked on my door on a cold, wet Saturday afternoon. He looked very shame-faced, as well as being cold and wet.

He had a document from the Department of Work and Pensions asking me to buy some cheap tat from him because he wanted to do an apprenticeship and had to find £9,000 before anyone would take him. He’d travelled down from Middlesbrough to peddle his wares.

We don’t have any mines any more: Maggie Thatcher and her allies saw to that.