Monday, November 12, 2012

More tax cheats

It turns out the UK's privatised water companies aren't paying their taxes either:

Three of Britain's biggest water companies paid little or no tax on their profits last year while generously rewarding their executives and investors, the Observer can reveal. Thames Water and Anglian Water paid no corporation tax on the profits made from their utility businesses while Yorkshire Water kept its payments to the Revenue in the low millions.

All the companies made hundreds of millions of pounds in operating profits and some have rewarded their senior executives with performance-related bonuses and investors with huge dividends. Martin Baggs, the chief executive of Thames Water, which enjoyed a £76m tax rebate in 2012, was given a bonus of £420,000 on top of his £425,000 salary and is in line for a further windfall of £1m based on company performance through to 2015.

The controversy follows a series of revelations that major companies, including multinationals such as Starbucks, Google and Amazon, have used complex financial manoeuvres to avoid tax, while generating huge profits and rewards for their owners.

This is, of course, utterly obscene. Capital is opting out of society, welching on its social obligations while of course claiming their protection. And of course the sociopaths running them are rewarding themselves for doing so.

Later this week, Starbucks, which doesn't pay its taxes, is going to be protected by police against citizens outraged by that fact. Its a perfect symbol of the moral state of multinationals: they are freeloaders, bludgers, who profit by externalising their costs (environmental, social, and even financial) onto everybody else. Its time that ended, and its time they paid their fair share.