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£2 billion in lost tax from big tech companies shifting profits?

HMRC may have missed out on up to £2 billion in tax from just seven big tech firms shifting their profits out of the UK.

This week our friends over at TaxWatch investigated the potential lost tax revenue in the UK in 2021 from seven major United States tech companies.

TaxWatch poured over the accounts of a number of companies including Amazon, Microsoft, and Apple. TaxWatch estimated how much tax these companies may have been liable to pay to HMRC had they declared profits at the same level they do globally.

The findings amount to £2 billion in potentially missed tax. Only a fraction of this figure, just £758 million, was actually paid to HMRC. This is on estimated UK profits of £14.8 billion. The companies say that they comply with the relevant tax laws.

Put into context, £2 billion could pay for more than 50,000 nurses , or over 40,000 classroom teachers for a year.

Smoke and mirrors

Complicated corporate structures, offshore schemes and favourable tax systems allow companies like Amazon and Apple to boost their bottom line while our schools scratch around for funding.

Given the lack of transparency about where companies make their money, and where they pay their taxes, it’s very difficult to get an accurate picture of what’s going on.

When our NHS is on its knees, schools are crumbling and public services are cut to the bone, it is inexcusable not to clamp down on multinationals that shift their profits elsewhere.