Opinion

Stop blood-sucking vampire companies devastating the UK economy

4 min read

16 October 2017

As blood-sucking vampire companies continue to suck us dry, it’s clear the tax system needs a reform.

Most of us have experienced the phenomena of déjà vu every now and again – especially in the UK economy. It happened to me last week when I read that auction website eBay had paid just £1.6m into the Treasury in 2016 against UK revenues of a billion quid.

It was definitely a case of “here we go again” as the row over the amount of tax big corporations pay into the UK economy coffers has raged for several years.

In fact, it made me look back at a previous article I’d written for Real Business back in 2013 where I raised the same question against a backdrop of HMRC naming and shaming SMEs rather than going for the big boys.

Which brings me back to eBay and the relatively paltry amount it paid in corporation tax. Its UK accounts record only £200m in revenues, which came from a Swiss parent business, which appears to be acting as its advertising agency.

Now for some businesses, £1.6m sounds like a lot of cash to hand over to the tax man, but let me put that figure into context next to a successful British SME business.

Last year, Pimlico Plumbers paid four times more tax on our £35m revenue than eBay coughed up in corporation tax for its massive £1.32bn UK sales.

This is the despicable truth about just how much these massive untouchable corporates are fleecing every single one of us, as we struggle to pay nurses, teachers and police officers.

It makes me so angry, not least of all because I’m constantly getting attacked by ignorant people who accuse me of ripping off the revenue.

Last year, my company shelled out more than £4m to HMRC, while the global superpower eBay was allowed to siphon most of their enormous profits out of the UK economy to offshore tax havens, leaving them with just £1.6m to pay in corporation tax.

We all know it happens, but when you consider a company like Pimlico, with a head count of just 350, is paying corporation tax of more than a million, and then add in the money for the revenue’s Construction Industry Scheme I pay in on behalf of my self-employed engineers every month, together with the PAYE and NI contributions, we’re not far short £5m!

It’s examples like this that prove that the tax system is completely rotten, and it is a national disgrace that it’s allowed to continue.

There is an argument that by having these companies in the UK creates jobs, which is, of course good for the UK economy. However, we can’t treat some companies differently to others. It’s morally wrong, but also economically dangerous.

While it must be said companies like eBay aren’t breaking the law, the system urgently needs to be reformed to stop these blood-sucking vampire companies devastating the UK economy and leaving us boracic lint.

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