Coffee chain Starbucks was left on the back foot yesterday – after a growing internet campaign called on consumers to boycott the company over its tax dealings in the UK.
The company hit the headlines after it was revealed it had paid just £8.6m in tax in the 13 years it has been in the UK.
Now, an MP has called for an inquiry into the situation – despite Starbucks having done nothing illegal.
Margaret Hodge, chair of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) and an MP for the Labour Party, said Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC), the tax authority, should look into Starbucks’ affairs. Hodge, who has the authority to instigate an inquiry, said the head of HMRC would be testifying to the PAC next month and that she expected questions about Starbucks to be raised.
Meanwhile, Starbucks said: “We make sure that multinationals pay the right tax to the UK in accordance with UK tax law.” It declined to say if it was considering any changes to its accounting practices but said it was “totally committed to the UK”.
Yesterday, social network sites such as Twitter and Facebook were awash with anti-Starbucks rhetoric. Examples included:
• @A_HOWDZ When you get your #StarBucks coffee today & they ask your name, scream at the top of your voice TAX MAN!!!
• @smokejack Govt creating initiatives for small business start-ups. So folk wanting to open coffee shop might want to ask for same tax band as Starbucks
• @ClaireMcBelfast Starbucks has paid NO tax in the UK in 3 years despite sales of £1.2bn. Think about that the nxt time you fancy a cuppa & support local cafés
• @kevinmckeever Shocking that @StarbucksUK have paid no tax in the UK since 2009. I think I’ll be getting my coffee elsewhere.