The Army Reserves, patriotism & JK Rowling
By Phil McElhinney at Nov 17, 2012
Defence secretary Philip Hammond has proposed changes to the Territorial Army the British reserves forces of the British army. One proposal being considered is that companies who employ reservists “could be allowed to use a new “kitemark” brand and join a “league of patriotic employers.” There is even talk that companies that discriminate against members of the reserve forces may be sued, Hammond said that employers will have an important patriotic role in supporting reservists.
It's typical of politicians to talk about the army in terms of patriotism, if you support soldiers going to war you are ’patriotic’ by this logic if you do not support soldiers going to war (for whatever reason) you must be ’unpatriotic’. Surely questioning what your government does (particularly when it concerns war) is being more patriotic then those people who go along with what our leaders say without questioning it.
There is possibly another way a person or company can show their patriotism - paying taxes. Harry Potter author JK Rowling is a multi millionaire, who could if she wanted move to another country and pay far less tax then she does here but in 2010 she said
"I chose to remain a domiciled [British] taxpayer for a couple of reasons. The main one was that I wanted my children to grow up where I grew up, to have proper roots in a culture as old and magnificent as Britain’s; to be citizens, with everything that implies, of a real country, not free-floating ex-pats, living in the limbo of some tax haven and associating only with the children of similarly greedy tax exiles."
"A second reason, however, was that I am indebted to the British welfare state; the very one that Mr Cameron would like to replace with charity handouts. When my life hit rock bottom, that safety net, threadbare though it had become under John Major’s Government, was there to break the fall. I cannot help feeling, therefore, that it would have been contemptible to scarper for the West Indies at the first sniff of a seven-figure royalty cheque. This, if you like, is my notion of patriotism. On the available evidence, I suspect that it is Lord Ashcroft’s* idea of being a mug."
*Lord Ashcroft is a member of the House of Lords and has donated millions of pounds to the governing Conservative Party, he has duel British and Belizean nationality and because of his non-domiciled status pays little or no tax to the British government.
(JK Rowling said this in an interview with The Times which can be seen on their website but requires a subscription)
To see a comparision of JK Rowling's attitude to paying taxes and Mitt Romney's watch this video made by the Young Turks
If the government is going to give away kite marks why not have a kite mark for those companies who pay their share of taxes.? If they did then Amazon, Google and Starbucks (to name only three) would not have a chance of gaining one. The Guardian reports that Amazon.co.uk - the biggest online retailer in Britain - generated sales of £3.3billion in 2011 but paid zero in corporation tax
"The UK operation avoids tax as the ownership of the main Amazon.co.uk business was transferred to a Luxembourg company in 2006. The UK business is now owned by Amazon EU Sarl and the UK operation is classed only as an "order fulfilment" business. All payments for books, DVDs and other goods go directly to Luxembourg. The UK business is simply a delivery organisation."
The Guardian goes on to say that in 2010 Amazon's Luxembourg office employed 134 people but generated a turnover of £6.5billion while its UK branch employed 2,265 people with a turn over of just £147million.
The Daily Telegraph says that in 2010 Google made a turnover of £239million but paid only £935,000 in tax and in 2010 paid £6million in tax from a turnover of £395million.
"Eric Schmidt, Google's executive chairman, claimed last year that the company was obliged to pay the legal minimum in UK tax. ....."We could pay more tax but we would have to do so voluntarily," he said. "There are lots of benefits to [being in Britain]."
Google's advertising space is sold in the Republic of Ireland, the BBC report that Matt Brittin from Google said this was due to Ireland's 12.5% corporation tax and that "until recently, the Ireland company was paying a fee to a separate Dutch company within Google, purely for the purpose of reducing its taxes."
Since it first opened in the UK in 1998 Reuters reports that Starbucks has made sales of over £3billion but paid only £8.6million in income tax, for the last three years Starbucks has reported no profit and paid no income tax on sales of £1.2billion. Reuters say that
"In the 2007 financial year to end-September, Starbucks' UK unit's accounts showed its tenth consecutive annual loss"
Starbucks also reported losses of £26million in 2008, £52million in 2009, £34million in 2010 and £33million in 2011. However in each year they told investors the company was making large profits. Reuters say that
"Starbucks has been telling investors the business was profitable, even as it consistently reported losses.This apparent contradiction arises from tax avoidance, and sheds light on perfectly legal tactics used by multinationals the world over. Starbucks stands out because it has told investors one thing and the taxman another."