Facebook’s tiny UK tax bill draws scorn

UK tax payers react to a newspaper report suggesting Facebook paid just £4,327 in UK corporation tax last year.

LONDON, ENGLAND, UK (OCTOBER 12, 2015) (REUTERS) – UK tax payers on Monday (October 12) reacted angrily to a newspaper report suggesting the Facebook is not paying enough tax.

An article in the Sunday Times accuses the social network giant of paying just £4,327 in UK corporation tax last year.

The newspaper said the amount was £1,000 less than the average British worker pays in tax and national insurance.

Some people in London’s Canary Wharf found the tax situation unbelievable.

“No that’s outrageous, I don’t understand how they can get away with it to be honest,” said Vicky Parker.

“It’s not just them, there are many other players in the industry who are doing the same thing. So I wouldn’t feel good about just singling out Facebook. I would say it’s a colossal problem in regard to which many, many different companies are equally guilty,” D K Matai added.

“I think that’s way too little, that’s not very much,” said Jonathan Ross.

Others were philosophical.

“I’m sure they’re not breaking the law, I’m sure. It’s all very well us complaining about these companies, but if the parliamentarians don’t change the law then these guys, what they’re doing is legal, so it’s up to us to push our MPs to change the law. They’re not doing anything illegal, it’s immoral and unethical,” another man, Richard Burchnall, told Reuters.

Analysts believe any legal clampdown would be some time in the future.

“Ultimately I think the only way this is going to be solved is if you actually get a higher degree of corporation tax harmonisation, and I think that is still a long way off. It strikes at the autonomy of governments, of democracy, and some very very big questions which will take years – if ever – to solve,” said BGC Partners’ market strategist Mike Ingram.

Technology giants are seen as the masters of exploiting tax loopholes.

But new proposals unveiled last week by the OECD could put a stop to that, by changing the rules to stop multinationals playing the system.