Dear Margaret Hodge: Facebook just isn’t avoiding tax in the UK
DEAR Lord the egregious Margaret Hodge is getting boring on this subject. She seems to ignore the manner in which every time she opens her gob on the subject of corporate tax she has to be corrected. It simply is not true that Facebook is avoiding tax in the UK:
However, those numbers are not reflected in its accounts. In common with fellow American technology leaders Google and Apple, Facebook funnels the vast majority of its income from advertisers targeting its 33 million British users through Ireland. “This is yet another example of what appears to be deliberate manipulation of accounts of economic activity to deprive the British taxpayer of a rightful tax contribution, according to the profits they make in the UK,” said Commons public accounts committee chairwoman Margaret Hodge. “I am getting fed up of this constant stream of stories and little sign of a challenge from HMRC and a strange silence from government.”
Look. Facebook sells its advertising from Ireland. Thus the advertising revenues are booked in Ireland and pay whatever tax Ireland decides to levy upon them. This is not tax avoidance. It’s most certainly not tax evasion either, it’s not even tax dodging. This is from HMRC itself:
Non-resident trading companies which do not have a branch in the UK, but have UK customers, will therefore pay tax on the profits arising from those customers in the country where the company is resident, according to the tax law in that country. The profits will not be taxed in the UK. This is not tax avoidance: it is simply the way that corporation tax works.
Most major economies operate corporation tax in the same way as the UK, so UK-resident companies are treated in a similar way in other countries. In other words, UK companies do not pay corporation tax to another country on the profits from sales in that country, unless they trade through a branch based there. Instead, they pay corporation tax in the UK
This is not a flaw in the system. This is the way the system is designed to work. This is exactly the system that Margaret Hodge has contributed to in her years in Parliament and in voting for various successive budgets and Corporation Tax bills.