Tesco and supermarket brandsTesco control 30% of the UK grocery market and have over 2,000 stores in the UK. In 2010 they made a profit of £3.4bn, yet they will still go to great lengths to avoid paying tax. Using complex legal structures Tesco has avoided stamp duty land tax to the tune of £90-£100m and £23m in stamp duty.
Tesco has its headquarters in the sleepy Hertfordshire town of Cheshunt. Something else that you can find there is Cheshunt Overseas, a limited liability partnership that has enabled Tesco to avoid £16m in tax through overseas business rules.
The sums Tesco has avoided may not be as much as Green or Vodafone, but hey, every little helps!
CadburyFollowing its takeover by US multinational Kraft, Cadbury is undergoing a 'restructuring' which will channel profits made by the British brand through Switzerland. It is estimated that this move will cost the UK taxpayer £60 million a year, money that Kraft can well afford - it pocketed £590m in profit in 2010.
Walkers CrispsThis famous crisp manufacturer markets itself as quintessentially British: the fields, the soil, the potatoes, the farmers, the factories and of course, Gary Linker. Something less British about Walkers is their profits, which are channelled to Switzerland. An investigation by the Guardian showed their avoidance tactics go back to 1999 when the business suddenly became a Swiss company. In the initial year the move meant we lost £10m in tax; in subsequent years it has been closer to £20m a year. HMRC went after them and they gave £40m back, less than a third of what we would have received had they kept the profits here.
Diageo (Johnnie Walker Scotch)Diageo plc has its headquarters in Henrietta Place, central London, and its £3.6m-a-year chief executive, Paul Walsh, lives in Sussex. The drinks giant has 6,500 workers in Britain, mostly making and selling scotch. Their famous Johnnie Walker brand, blended in Kilmarnock, is exported all over the world. But this British firm has been paying very little UK corporation tax, relatively speaking. Despite average annual profits of almost £2bn over the last decade, its accounts disclose a mere £43m a year in average UK corporation tax charges. This is little more than 2% of its profits. The tax bill would be nearer £144m a year if it reflected Diageo's actual physical UK presence rather than the present system of taxing only those financial profits said to arise in this country.
In the press
- Tesco: new claims of tax avoidance
- Tesco and tax: a complex web of companies, trusts and partnerships
- Tescos: the Zug deal is tax avoidance
- Kraft to switch Cadbury jobs to Zurich
- Moving Cadbury HQ to Switzerland could save Kraft millions in UK tax
- Cadbury goes Swiss to avoid British tax: Move by U.S. bosses will cost Treasury £60 million a year
- How to save a packet: The transfer of Walkers crisps to a foreign subsidiary has cost UK millions
- Going Dutch: How drinks giants spirited away Johnnie Walker label from UK tax liabilities