All hail UKUncut as Starbucks pays some tax it doesn’t owe
I GUESS we should call this a victory for UKUncut. Starbucks has just paid some tax:
The coffee shop chain will reveal the amounts in its annual report, which is set to be published as early as this week, saying that it has started the process of paying the £20m over two years it promised in 2012.
The figures will reveal that the business is still making an annual loss of £30.4m – a 7.5pc reduction in losses from the year before when they stood at £32.9m.
But I will admit that I’ve got something of a problem with this victory.
For a start, Starbucks doesn’t actually owe any tax. You don’t pay a profits tax on profits that you’re not making after all. It was purely the threat of a consumer boycott that made them make these extra, voluntary, payments. You know, blackmail.
And all of UKUncut’s other demonstrations have achieved absolutely and precisely nothing. Boot’s is still headquartered in Switzerland and still pays vast interest bills which reduce its profits. Vodafone didn’t pay a single extra penny in tax as a result of the demos: and nor did Topshop or Sir and Lady Green. Didn’t they shout about Barclay’s as well? To zero noticeable effect. And I seem to recall that they protested Fortnum and Mason’s as well: that’s owned by a friggin’ charity.
So the net effect of the whole movement appears to have been to extort some tax out of people who didn’t actually owe it: and that’s it.
Sure, it’s a victory: but how much should we celebrate it?