Maybe we do care about tax

  fourm member 10:18 22 Jun 13

I'm treading carefully because I'm in danger of making the mistake of assuming one thing applies generally. I'm not, I'm just putting forward one thing and seeing if anyone else has any similar anecdotes.

I've noticed that the number of people coming to my website via Yahoo and other search engines has grown. It used to be about 4% of the total but it is now nearer 15%.

It could be that people have decided to escape Google's filter bubble or if could be that people are turning against Google after the tax planning publicity. Or it could be something completely different.

So, the question is, have you actually changed your behaviour in any way after learning about the ways companies and people try and reduce the tax they pay?

(And before I get accused of trying to conceal my real purpose I'll say that I've been thinking about this for a couple of days but, of course, the news that Nigel Farage went in for tax planning makes me wonder if that will affect his support.)

  wiz-king 10:52 22 Jun 13

No. I have never liked Google; as a search engine or as a gatherer of information about people. On my website I had a look to see if it has dropped its percentage and there is no change over last year but Bing is up and Yahoo down a bit and have swapped position in the tables.

But, I have always tried to use the less well known companies if they can provide a good service.

I am strangely amused when a company or person that promotes its self as a good clean thing. The Co-op is a good example at the moment, it says it cares about the customers health and promotes health food and cases of alcohol!

  Forum Editor 10:55 22 Jun 13

I'll be honest, and admit that I no longer buy anything from Starbucks. There are alternative coffee shops which I can use, so I do.

I use Google all the time, because there isn't - in my opinion - an equivalent alternative. I'm not going to pretend that my principles are so noble that I'm going to compromise my own working efficiency because a company might be getting a bad press over its corporate tax affairs.

  Chronos the 2nd 11:12 22 Jun 13

the news that Nigel Farage went in for tax planning makes me wonder if that will affect his support.

I doubt it, he is much like Boris Johnson in the respect that bad press has no effect on their popularity.

  spuds 11:16 22 Jun 13

I can perhaps safely say, that I haven't changed my behaviour, because I have always had annoyance and deep concerns about companies that use loop holes in supposed laws for everyone, in whatever form.

I still use and possibly will remain doing so, companies like Amazon for that bargain buy, because possibly I might think like many others, that my refusal to support these companies have no noticeable effect, and perhaps will never have.

Governments have a deep responsibility here, for getting things right and fair for all. But all to often there are obvious hidden agendas, that the like of the 'small guy' will never know about or consider?.

  Flak999 17:03 22 Jun 13

I always thought that the old adage "tax avoidance is a duty, tax evasion is a crime." is the right way to go about things. The government make the rules regarding UK tax and HMRC implement them, if enterprising companies or individuals are able to legally find a way through the rules to minimise their tax exposure then good luck to them!

  john bunyan 17:16 22 Jun 13


"to legally find a way through the rules to minimise their tax exposure then good luck to them"

The trouble is that some countries in the EU, like Luxembourg have lower rates of corporation tax and VAT than the UK, so companies like Amazon can pass on the lower VAT rate to UK customers. Luxembourg is a small economy and benefit from the large volume of trade and the UK coffers lose out. Perhaps the government, if it were allowed under EU rules, could levy more at the border to bring the VAT in line with our rates. Another loophole is where Starbucks etc levy Royalty charges or "add value" in a foreign state, increasing the profit there and theoretically making no profit here. If all companies did this the revenue would go down considerably, so it is understandable if the government passes laws to reduce such practises.

  Forum Editor 18:35 22 Jun 13

"if enterprising companies or individuals are able to legally find a way through the rules to minimise their tax exposure then good luck to them!"

That's certainly one way of looking at the situation - pass the buck to the government, it's their fault for leaving loopholes in the law.

It's not illegal to grab that last seat on the train, instead of letting a heavily pregnant woman have it, so perhaps I should do that? I can blame the government for not passing a law about it.

The fact is, there are legal obligations and there are moral ones - most of us recognise when something, although it's perfectly legal, is just 'wrong'. It makes us uncomfortable because we know that really it's simply not fair to society as a whole. Companies that deliberately set out to dodge a tax liability that most of us know they should meet are acting immorally in many peoples' opinion, and they must expect potential customers to judge them and find other providers.

  fourm member 18:35 22 Jun 13


I started the thread to see if people had done anything as a result of the perception that some companies/people aren't paying their fair share.

I agree with you that governments make the tax rules and companies would be foolish not to try and make best use of them but that's a different issue from the reaction of people to the situation.

It seems to me that people feel it is wrong for Starbucks to sell coffee in competition with other cafés when it has a commercial advantage because it pays less tax. And people are angry that Google has this 'peace and love' corporate philosophy but wriggles to avoid paying tax.

There's a discussion to be had about doing away with corporation tax and recovering the money through higher VAT including a low rate to replace the zero rate.

After all, companies don't pay corporation tax, their customers do. By that I mean companies want to enough have money to give shareholders a return, invest in the future and pay staff. They try and set pricing to achieve that and the amount of corporation tax paid is factored in to the end price.

  morddwyd 20:13 22 Jun 13

"there are legal obligations and there are moral ones "

Come on, FE, you're not comparing like with like.

Paying tax is not a moral obligation it's a legal one, and I, and I suspect that I am not alone, would not pay it if I could help it.

Making the best possible return for your investors is a legal obligation for any company, and volunteering to pay large sums to the British Treasury is not the way to do that.

To say that you do not use these companies because they are law abiding is plainly unreasonable.

I make no bones about the fact, posted here before, that I claimed shaving costs as a legitimate business expense for many years.

Are you now saying that I should pay it all back because my peers didn't have the good sense to do the same thing?

  spuds 20:49 22 Jun 13

"Paying tax is not a moral obligation it's a legal one, and I, and I suspect that I am not alone, would not pay it if I could help it"

I am a great believer in perhaps paying more taxes during my working life, if I knew and was certain that it would benefit me and other similar like people in later life as a pensioner.

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