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Thursday, 17 April 2014

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Protest outside Carlisle Starbucks over tax dodging

Protesters took to the streets to call for the end of corporate tax dodging.

Carlisle Starbucks protest photo
Protesters outside Starbucks

The Carlisle branch of the Socialist Party stood outside the Scotch Street branch of Starbucks to raise awareness of the issue.

They carried placards and encouraged passersby to sign a petition demanding an end to tax avoidance, with the coffee chain one of the highest-profile firms not to have made payments.

Carlisle Socialist Party secretary Brent Kennedy said the issue is one that affects everybody.

“£120bn is in avoidance schemes when the budget deficit is £108bn,” he added.

“If the Government took over and closed the loopholes they would have to find another justification for making the cuts.”

The issue has been brought to national attention after investigations found that several big firms, including Starbucks but also other big names such as Google, Amazon and Boots, have been avoiding paying corporation tax.

The coffee franchise had been claiming that it made a loss, vastly reducing its bill.

After a public backlash it has said it will pay £20m to the Treasury over the next two years.

Mr Kennedy described this as “cynical” but also said: “We [the protesters] have achieved what HMRC did not want to achieve.”

The day saw two new members join the party with many people stopping to sign the petition.

Franchesca Whitaker, 25, of Brampton, was one.

She said: “I want big companies to pay taxes the way everybody else has to pay them so everybody can have good public services.”

Anti-tax avoidance activists staged protests at more than 50 Starbucks stores nationally on Saturday to complain about the company tax arrangements.

Campaign group UK Uncut said it was the most widespread day of action it had ever held, showing the depth of anger at the scale of tax avoidance by some large companies.

UK Uncut said it had “transformed” Starbucks stores into refuges, creches and homeless shelters to highlight the tax issues as well as the effect of Government cuts on women.

Meanwhile, London Mayor Boris Johnson condemned “sneering” at Starbucks after the firm volunteered to pay millions of pounds more tax.

He defended companies like it who had been minimising their bills to the Exchequer, insisting they had a duty to shareholders.

And he said people should praise it for “stepping up to the plate” and giving more back to society.

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