February 7, 2011

Tax Revolt In The UK: Will Canada be Next?

By admin

Tax cheats are starting to finally face opposition from the general public … in Britain.

It seems more and more people are getting fed up with corporate cuts, failed business models and bailouts.

Did you hear about this:

That Saturday Vodafone’s stores were shut down across the country by peaceful sit-ins. The crowds sang songs and announced they had come as volunteer tax collectors. Prime Minister David Cameron wants axed government services to be replaced by a “Big Society,” in which volunteers do the jobs instead. So UK Uncut announced it was the Big Society Tax Collection Agency.

Will Canada follow?  Will the issue of corporate tax cuts deepen the divide between the Liberals and the Cons?  Or will Iggy’s ‘no cuts … yet’ line or Jack Layton’s ‘no cuts … period … unless you throw me a scrap from your table’ fail to resonate with Canadians?  Or will we see a new party with stones emerge and put a line in the sand that will address these concerns?  But no Tea Party, OK?  I can’t stand their message.

Government isn’t bad.  It’s wasteful government that sucks.  $16 billion on planes, $10 billion on building a security state, $60 billion on a massive marketing campaign (and indirect subsidy to CTV and other media companies via big media budgets).  Etc.  Etc.

The message with this article is quite clear:  if you want to sell in the UK (we Canadians should take note of this), you should pay taxes.  Support our infrastructure rather than just use it.  Support our population rather than just exploit it:

The UK Uncut message was simple: if you want to sell in our country, you pay our taxes. They are the membership fee for a civilized society. Most of the protesters I spoke with had never attended a demonstration before, but were driven to act by the rising unemployment, insecurity and austerity that are being outpaced only by rising rewards for the superrich. Ellie Mae O’Hagan, a 25-year-old office worker in Liverpool, one of the most economically depressed places in the country, said she was “absolutely outraged to discover that I was paying more than Philip Green in taxes.” She added, “I could see what all the cuts were doing. My brother had been made redundant, loads of my friends were unemployed and I could see it all getting worse, while these bankers get even bigger bonuses. And I thought, Right, you’ve got to do something. So I e-mailed UK Uncut to ask if there was a protest happening in Liverpool. They said, Not yet, so you organize one. So I spent forty-eight hours arranging one. And a hundred people turned up—an amazing mixture of people, who I had never met, and who didn’t know each other—and we shut down both Vodafone stores. Suddenly, it felt like we weren’t passive anymore. We were standing up for ourselves.”

Here are some strategic suggestions for Canadians:

What should US Uncut target? “It’s important to go after brand names that exist in every city in America,” says Tom Purley, a UK Uncut participant. “The key to our success was that it was so easily replicated. People could do it anywhere. It took something that seems like a remote issue and connected it to a place they see every day.” Most of the companies that engage in the worst tax avoidance in the United States are Big Pharma and financial companies, which don’t have stores. But the GAO also named a number of major brands that are exploiting tax havens. They include Apple, Bank of America, Best Buy, ExxonMobil, FedEx (whose president, Frederick Smith, was named by Obama as the businessman he most admires), Kraft Foods, McDonald’s, Safeway and Target. That’s a wealth of potential targets.

I still suggest Bell and Rogers should be targeted first, but companies like Wal-Mart, Kraft and McDonald’s would also be good choices.  That said, does anyone have research showing which big companies didn’t pay any taxes in Canada?