Multinationals’ tax agility: Facebook friends indeed

ANYONE who clings to the increasingly threadbare we’re-all-in-this-together idea of society, and despite everything that’s probably most of us, will be outraged that Facebook UK paid just £4,327 (€5,840) in company taxes last year.

This tax bill is lower than the one faced by a single UK worker on an average salary of £26,500 (€35,766).

Facebook have done nothing illegal. Last year the company made an accounting loss of £28.5m (€38.47m) in Britain, after paying out more than £35m (€47.24m) to its 362 staff in a share bonus scheme — worth an average of more than £96,000 (€130,000) to each employee. Globally Facebook made profits of $2.9bn (€2.55bn), on revenue of $12.5b (€10.55bn), UK revenues were £105m (€144m).

The OECD is drafting international taxation rules through its Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (Beps) project with the objective of tackling this anomaly so enjoyed by global business. It is expected that measures agreed by Beps will be supported by G20 government later this year.

The OECD estimates that some thing up to $240bn is lost to exchequers each year through multinationals’ tax agility. These are astounding sums and would go a very long way to reinvigorating the social services and ambitions put to one side right across the world by the recession. The figures are also a pretty stark example of how wealth is becoming ever more concentrated.


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