The tax arrangements of Google, Amazon and Starbucks have been big news recently. Essentially these are big multi-national companies that arrange themselves financially such that they make large amounts of money from British consumers, but pay little or no tax because the profits are transferred out of the country.
Robert Peston, the well known BBC financial journalist published a great post questioning whether our government is scared of these big companies…
If the UK had an industrial strategy over the past 30 years, it could perhaps have been characterised as “foreigners more than welcome”.
To a greater extent than any developed economy, British governments have been almost wholly lacking in concerns when overseas companies set up shop in the UK or bought businesses here – because of the conviction that these overseas companies would bring decent management, useful competition and investment capital to this country.
Against this government policy backdrop, Google, Starbucks and Amazon seem to be examples of huge American companies doing as well or better in the UK than anywhere apart – perhaps – from their home market in the US.
That, at least, would be the case if success is measured in terms of revenues or market share.