16 October 2012 11:05
US coffee chain Starbucks has come under fire after it was revealed over the weekend that the chain paid no UK corporation tax last year, despite making sales of £398 million. It was further revealed that the US firm has paid just £8 million in corporation tax to HMRC in the 14 years since it arrived on British high streets, despite generating sales of £3 billion.
In contrast its nearest rival Costa paid £15 million in tax last year on similar sales of £377 million.
According to Starbucks' latest figures, the company is not liable to pay tax, as it made a £32.9 million loss last year. However, suspicions have been raised as to why the division has spent almost a decade reporting a loss each year. Although there is no suggestion that the company has broken the law in any way, Michael Meacher, a Labour MP and tax campaigner, complained that Starbucks was behaving in an "extremely unfair" way and acting against the interests of the public, telling Reuters it was "trying to play the taxman, game him. It's disgraceful."
Starbucks UK said it was following the rules. In a statement, a spokesman for the company said: "We have paid and will continue to pay our fair share of taxes in full compliance with all UK tax laws, as we always have.
"There has been no suggestion by any authority that we are anything but compliant and good taxpayers. We do this in a way that is consistent with the values that have guided us since we were founded more than 40 years ago – balancing our need to operate a profitable business with a social conscience."