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Starbucks and the sanction of the victim

News reports over the weekend said that more than 100,000 people had signed a petition calling for the recommendations of the Leveson report to be implemented in full.  This was one of the saddest things I’ve heard in ages.

First, given that Leveson was only published this week, how many of the signatories would have read the report?  At 2,000 pages, no more than a handful.  Second, I wonder how many of the signatories even knew how many recommendations there are? The executive summary tells me 92.  Question the signatories again, how many could name them all, or even one?

This is desperate stuff.  These people don’t seem to notice the chains being put ever more tightly around their necks, indeed they are fucking cheerleading the process.  The ability to regulate (and therefore control) the press would be an awesome power to give to the state.  It seems that the petitioners can’t see the possibility of the state misusing the power.  Let’s not forget this is a state that has in recent times bankrupted the country and plunged us into murderous wars on the back of lies*, to say nothing of being complicit in torture and abduction.  Add that to the history of statist crimes and genocide in the twentieth century and if you still can’t see evil writ large, best learn to pick cotton in the fields and say “Yes, massa” These are the cunts you want to remove independent scrutiny from huh?

Then we had Starbucks displaying what Ayn Rand called “the sanction of the victim**” They are apparently ‘in talks’ with the Treasury about the amount of corporation tax they pay.  I am unclear what there is to talk about, outside of Arkell v. Pressdram’ of course.  They completed a tax return which seems only to have been questioned now that it has been the subject of publicity (sic).  Then we had former Chancellor Alistair Darling popping up saying tax affairs should be clear and there should be nothing to discuss.  He seemed to be serious as he kept a straight face.  Anyone with even a passing familiarity with UK corporation tax will know it is wildly complex.  If Darling had wanted to make it simple he could have.  He didn’t and thus we can form our own opinions about his complaints about it.

Then of course you had the moron vox pops saying ‘they should pay their fair share”  De facto this is “they are a big company, so loot ‘em”  Apparently they haven’t made a UK profit since 1998.  Turnover is not profit.  It reminds me of the old joke about how we lose money on each unit sale but we make it up on volume.

Well of course the company will be paying vast amounts in business rates on its 700 UK stores.  Employers NI must add up to a pretty significant sum and let’s not forget the thousands of UK jobs more or less anyone can get.

Just for once, I would love a UK business to get all “Atlas Shrugged” on ‘em and announce the following:

“We don’t make any money from our UK operation, so learn the difference between turnover and profit before opening your ignorant mouths.  But you know what, if you are so unhappy, fine.  From Monday all the UK stores are all closed, everyone is fired so fuck off to Costa you ungrateful bastards and expect your personal taxes to go up a bit to cover the loss of UBR, the increased dole payments and the knock-on negative multiplier.  There, you must all be happy now; cunts”

* They would argue it wasn’t lies it was rank incompetence.  Thousands are dead because we didn’t know what the fuck we were doing.  Well that’s much better.

** http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atlas_Shrugged#Sanction_of_the_victim

45 Comments

  1. john b says:

    Do you really think Starbucks runs its UK operation out of the kindness of its heart? The fact that it continues to exist demonstrates that it’s either making money (which is then hidden using dodgy accounting), or that management believe it will make money in future.

    The whole “Going Galt” thing highlights Rand’s cluelessness about economics. Companies do business out of self-interest; their directors would be liable to lawsuits or even criminal prosecution if they acted based on anything other than self-interest.

  2. Single Acts of Tyranny says:

    “Do you really think Starbucks runs its UK operation out of the kindness of its heart?”

    No, I have not suggested this.

    “management believe it will make money in future”

    Yes, obviously.

    “The whole “Going Galt” thing highlights Rand’s cluelessness about economics. Companies do business out of self-interest;”

    Yes, obvioulsy. That is the whole thrust of her book, she suggests people act in their own self interest and wider benefits flow thereof. The “going Galt” thing is to demonstrate who actually moves the world and who is a parasite.

  3. JuliaM says:

    “The fact that it continues to exist demonstrates that it’s either making money (which is then hidden using dodgy accounting), or that management believe it will make money in future.”

    When did ‘making money’ become something that we should be ashamed of?

  4. dcardno says:

    John b:
    I suspect that Starbucks files its tax returns to Her Majesty’s Treasurer entirely in accordance with existing law, so I question your assertion that profits are “then hidden using dodgy accounting. In fact, unless you can identify a where Starbucks’ returns fail to meet statutory requirements I think you are a complete cunt, and you should own up to the same – not that I expect that you will.
    If you dislike the provisions of the tax laws, perhaps you could direct your ire to your MP, rather than to a company which simply complies with them, no?

  5. dcardno says:

    john b:
    I should go further – even if management believes that a company will make money in the future, that is no justification for imposing taxes today, if the company is not currently making money, although that seems to be your position.
    For what it’s worth , I suspect that Starbucks is making bucket-loads of money NOW – but that within the rules of law they are not subject to current tax.
    Big whaw.

  6. Lynne says:

    Being as Starbucks is operating within the single market of the EU doesn’t that give large corporations like itself the choice of paying the bulk of their taxes in EU countries with lower tax rates? Countries like Ireland for example? Instead of condemning Starbucks or Amazon shouldn’t we be damning the UK government for hiking up taxes that drive companies to make this shrewd decision to pay taxes in EU countries who have a lower rate of tax? I mean, what business in its right mind would elect to pay taxes at, for example, 19% when a 16% alternative is available?

    As for the Leveson Effect – sheeple will be sheeple especially when the herd believes it is doing something “right” and “good”. It’s the same troubling phenomenon the power hungry State dinosaur depends on for its survival.

  7. fake says:

    I think you make a mistake defending starbucks, and make the same mistake as UKunCUNTS as lumping them all together as “all tax dodgers” or “all complying with the law”.

    Starbucks is not Amazon, it’s physical sales are here, you are not ordering a coffee from luxenburger and having it shipped via a UK warehouse.

    The idea that a company has to pay royalties to it’s parent company, and that these fees can be counted as deductible costs is sensible tax law.

    But Amazon are clearly abusing this, yea fine, it’s legal you can cry.

    But it’s wrong.

    Oh fuck off you moralizing twat, I hear you all drawing breath to cry.

    You may argue corporate tax is wrong itself, but that’s another argument, under the current political radar it’s not even a blip.

    Because whilst we HAVE corporate tax, we have to try and make it fair, allowing 1 coffee shop to “abuse” the system in this manner puts the others at a disadvantage.

    Starbucks are using the system in a manner it was not intended to be used, now you can argue that’s our own governments damn stupid fault for not setting controls on the rules, but trying to defend Starbucks is not the way to make friends and influence people.

  8. fake says:

    *starbucks not amazon are abusing this

  9. CountingCats says:

    cunt, cunt, c**t, c**t, c**t, c**t, c**t, c**t, c**t, c**t, c**t, c**t, c**t, c**t, c**t, c**t, c**t, c**t, c**t, c**t, c**t, c**t, c**t, c**t.

    Right. That’s it. The entire allocation for this posting has been used up and there ain’t no more.

    You will all have to come up with some educated, informed and literate way in which to express yourselves now.

    I am sure you can all do it if you feel like trying.

  10. CountingCats says:

    fuck, fuck, f**k, f**k, f**k, f**k, f**k, f**k, f**k, f**k, f**k, f**k, f**k, f**k, f**k, f**k, f**k, f**k, f**k, f**k, f**k, f**k, f**k, f**k, f**k, f**k, f**k, f**k.

    Right, they are all used up too.

    You now have no choice but to play nice now.

  11. Kevin B says:

    So either we find some way round the law and force the evil Starbucks to pay our twenty per cent corporation tax, or Starbucks opts for some PR deal that has the same effect. What happens next?

    Starbucks profits go down. Hooray!!

    This puts pressure on evil Starbucks share price. Hooray!!

    The capitalisation of the company falls which means it has to put its evil expansion plans on hold’ New outlets aren’t opened and therefore don’t pay business rates, don’t employ people, don’t use local shopfitters or cleaners, don’t use delivery firms etc. etc. etc. Hooray!!

    The evil shareholders, (which might include your insurance firm, pension fund or ISA), get antsy at the lower returns and put pressure on the evil Starbucks to get their profit back up. Marginal outlets are closed, staff are sacked and the price of a skinny latte goes up. Hooray!!

    So HMRC has fucked the customers, fucked your pension fund, fucked the workers and stopped a little bit of wealth being created in an area that needs it. Hoo-fucking-ray.

    Oh, and all the really smart guys that are the cheif customers of the evil Starbucks will go: “Hooray!! That showed ‘em”.

  12. Kevin B says:

    Oh. and I was composing that missive, (and answering the phone), while Cats was using up the language allowance, so please feel free to substitute the mild expletive of your choice in those places where I found that my exasperation at the PTB, the meeja and the citizens of this great country overcame my normal reticence, and I used bad language.

  13. John Galt says:

    Here the UK vox populi (or is it vox populus) is playing into the trap set by the founders of the EUSSR. Only by having member states fighting among themselves because of differential tax rates can the EU come in as beneficent overlord and impose the EU Tax Harmonization directive.

    Then when the trap has shut the rates can be hiked up to 35%, 40%, 50%++. When we are all one nation, a country called Europa, then where can we escape to? Switzerland?

    No. This is why I have already escaped and why I will not return.

  14. Rob Fisher says:

    I only hope that Amazon, who, as Paul Marks pointed out elsewhere do not suck up to leftist customers, show somewhat more spine.

  15. Lynne says:

    What Kevin B said.

    It’s not just Starbucks who, BTW, are not committing any crime by avoiding tax. It’s the principle of the thing. What sane person, be they a corporate CEO or a street cleaner, would willingly hand over cash to a pile of incompetent shysters when they don’t have too?

    What really gets me is the people who are arguing to defend the legalised daylight robbery known as taxation by going after those who seek to pay less of it. It should be encumbent on us all to pay less tax and hold the government to account when we are NOT getting value for money in any way, shape or form. No one, other than those anti-Christs vile bankers, is being held accountable for the mess created mostly by politicians and their absurd, totalitarian and, in some instances, frankly treasonous policies.

    I don’t know about anyone else but I’m solidly against handing over more hard won readies to a government only too happy to piss it away up the wall of the same stupid policies that are wrecking our economy. There will never be enough taxation levied to slake the beast yet it has cheerleaders in public life and the media urging it to go for the fiscal jugular of business without any thought as to the consequences that filter down to the hard slogging troops on the ground.

    I know that taxation is a necessary evil but in its current form it’s insidious, insatiable and has become a growng tyranny foisted upon us by cretins who don’t know the value of anything and don’t give a shit about the price because hey, it’s not their money being spunked away for the next two generations. They’ve even found a way to tax the air we breathe under the guise of “saving the planet”. What’s more people are thanking them for it. How fucked up is that? I wonder if the cheers will be so loud when the lights go out?

    End of rant. I really should get back to bligging.

  16. Lynne says:

    Or blogging even…

  17. NickM says:

    Cats,
    Don’t be such a prig! This site has always been a discussion down the pub rather than a discussion in the bloody academy. It’s always been quaffing ale in the cheap seats and not sipping sherry in leather armchairs.

    As to Corp. Tax… Well, it’s like computers isn’t it. How much malware did I get on my Speccy? How much on a modern PC? Complexify (a Dubya-ism I’m sure) the system and clever accountants will find exploits. Of course Gideon will respond to this by even more complexifying the system and then even cleverer accountants will find even cleverer ‘sploits. Course they will! Amazon, Starbucks, whoever… Don’t matter. Gideon is blaming people for exercising rational self-interest within a system of stupifying complexity. No bugger understands it entire and that is the problem. Address that Gideon and fit the stable with a simple but secure padlock before you blame the horse for bolting.

  18. Sam Duncan says:

    Also what Kevin B and Lynne said. Since when did paying more tax than is absolutely necessary by law become some kind of moral badge of honour? The evil tax collector is a stock character in folk tales going back centuries; when did he become the good guy? This witch-hunt is a pile of statist humbug, and while I’ve never set foot inside a Starbucks in the first place (yes, seriously; it just never happened), I sincerely hope Amazon sticks to its guns.

    But Nick makes a good point. This would be an excellent time to make the case for flat (or at least drastically simplified) tax, the whole point of which is to make avoidance not worth the bother.

  19. David Gillies says:

    If Starbucks cave to HMRC’s demand for money with menaces then I hope a large bunch of shareholders launches a class action for breach of fiduciary duty. It is an elementary principle of Common Law jurisprudence that every man is not merely entitled but expected to minimise the degree to which the taxman can plunder his pantry. That is to say, tax avoidance is not merely a right but a moral duty. Utter dripping pissflaps* like Richard Murphy think otherwise, which is why he should be boiled.

    * see what I did there?

  20. John Galt says:

    Cats,
    Don’t be such a prig! This site has always been a discussion down the pub rather than a discussion in the bloody academy. It’s always been quaffing ale in the cheap seats and not sipping sherry in leather armchairs.

    Don’t wind him up again otherwise we’ll have more articles being deleted in an emetic surge of self censorship.

  21. Thornavis says:

    “Because whilst we HAVE corporate tax, we have to try and make it fair, allowing 1 coffee shop to “abuse” the system in this manner puts the others at a disadvantage.”

    Hang on, you can’t heave a half brick in any town centre in England ( can’t vouch for the Celtlands ) without hitting someone coming out of a coffee shop, how are they being disadvantaged by Starbucks exactly ? This is much the same argument as that deployed by the small army of tossers who objected to Costa opening in Totnes on the grounds that it would trim the 40 million independent shops there down to 35 million. It was never explained how, if all these independents weren’t cutting each other’s throats, Costa would manage to, unless they were operating some sort of cartel in which case they deserved to have their gizzards slit from ear to ear. As for Amazon, long may they flourish. Since retirement I have to watch the pennies more closely than a myopic Glaswegian and Amazon are very willing to flog me cheap stuff, if they weren’t there I wouldn’t buy it and how that would help anyone, least of all me, I have no idea.

  22. Sam Duncan says:

    watch the pennies more closely than a myopic Glaswegian

    Oi! Less of that.

    It’s Aberdonians who’re mean.

    :)

  23. Thornavis says:

    Sorry Sam, I was looking to get a dig in at northerners but couldn’t manage it so settled for North Britons instead ! Btw and completely OT, how do you do those smiley things ? I’ve tried a few times but it never works, if it involves something more technical than a mouse click I’m lost.

  24. Mr Ed says:

    Not paying tax as they are paying a Dutch sister company a lot of money for their intellectual property seems to be the summary.

    First reaction: You are having a laugh, what a remarkably tenuous proposition.

    Second reaction: Good idea.

    It’s obviously a commercially unreal situation and the fact that it has been passed by HMRC is not a matter of concern, the most horrifying thing is that taxes are so high that this sort of nonsense arises in the first place.

  25. [...] Counting Cats in Zanzibar: Starbucks and the sanction of the [...]

  26. Single Acts of Tyranny says:

    There are an awful lot of offshore property transactions to avoid the 7% or 15% Stamp Duty these days.

    Trust me.

  27. RAB says:

    Thornavis.

    I am an idiot at computer things too, but I have found that to do those smiley things you go…

    : then a – then a ) single spaced of course, et voila! It’s something to do with the WordPress system. And you need to be one space away from the last words you’ve typed, or it won’t come up as an icon, Kay? :-)

  28. John Galt says:

    There are an awful lot of offshore property transactions to avoid the 7% or 15% Stamp Duty these days.

    Have been for a long time. I seem to remember St. Margaret of Thatcher bought her retirement property through an offshore company although I think that was IHT avoidance back then (1990′s sometime)

  29. Thornavis says:

    Thanks for that RAB, here goes : – )

  30. Thornavis says:

    Nope, back to the drawing board !

  31. NickM says:

    Thornavis, it involves a lot less than a mouse click. Type your emoticon in the normal way and WordPress makes it so. Example “:”,”-”,”)” makes a :-).

    In general (and this means you SAoT). Can you lay off the North? As someone from Gateshead who now lives near Manchester it’s getting on my tits.

    John,
    I am immune to such hissy fits. And, frankly, after all the work I’ve done here getting down-graded (without my knowledge) from “Admin” to “Editor” without being told was something I took on the chin so fuck it! I stay because of comments from the likes of you and others. I speak with my own voice and that is as much Viz as the KJV. Well, what d’ya expect from a Geordie who was born in ’73?

  32. Umbongo says:

    In case you’re interested, Tim Worstall (pbuh) was giving Margaret Hodge (the member for Stemcor ™) real grief earlier on the Adam Boulton programme on SKY by (effectively) repeating his article in the Times about tax avoidance.

    Since then the whole country (well the media anyway) has gone Kate pregnacy crazy. I wonder what the scum in Westminster will slip through while the public’s back is turned!

  33. RAB says:

    Damn! It was my single spaced comment that confused you. Just do : then – then ) but all together like you’d spell AND not A N D. It’ll work promise.

    What a cynical bugger you are Umbongo. Well done and keep up the good work, we will be watching them like a hawk. They slipped the Energy Bill out under-cover of the Levison Report didn’t they? ;-)

  34. Philip Scott Thomas says:

    I rely on R4′s Today programme to get me out of bed in the morning. I lie there listening until my blood pressure rises sufficiently that hydrostasis get me upright. The difference this morning was the added swearing at the radio.

    Look, this business with the corporation tax paid by Starbucks, Google, Amazon, et al. has nothing to do with tax avoidance or with gaming the system. It’s not even to do with loopholes. They are doing exactly what the EU intended them to do. The EU has spent the last 40 years designing a Europe-wide tax system and these companies are complying with it. The UK has no more ability legally to extract additional taxes from the companies than it has to charge a minimum unit price for alcohol.*

    As for the morality of the system, well, that’s a subject worthy of a whole post in itself. Briefly, however, when it comes to the law, morality is of no matter. The only question is whether a specific action is legal or illegal. Those who would attempt to introduce morality into the law in a democracy are either morons or tyrants.

    * Britain has already been told that Minimum Unit Pricing (MUP) is illegal in the EU. Yet our government pretends that it remains an option. When was the last time you heard a discussion of MUP on the Beeb that came anywhere near even mentioning the EU? Why is that?

  35. Thornavis says:

    Thanks chaps I shall try the smiley advice at some point but will practice first as I don’t want to reveal myself as even more of bumbling old fool than I have already.
    Nick, no offence, as those who don’t mean it say ! I occasionally indulge in the North v South insultfest, not because I really mean it but rather as the sort of banter you get during an Ashes series between Poms and Aussies. It probably won’t be long before some finger wagging moraliser decides that it’s all a form of racism and bans it though.

  36. CountingCats says:

    David Gillies,

    Do you often come into peoples homes and treat them with the blinding contempt you have just demonstrated here?

    Given that I strongly suspect that you know nothing of the special circumstances surrounding that posting might I suggest that your opinion on it is probably best expressed with silence.

  37. CountingCats says:

    Sigh,

    Here we go again. Another public argument.

    Nick, as you are fully aware, you were downgraded because of the unwarranted, abusive and obscene assault you launched at Ianb. An assault which resulted in him, quite rightly, telling us all to fuck off because we, all of us, were unable to influence you and get you to stop.

    f you are going to treat me and RAB and all the other posters on this site with the contempt you demonstrated on that occasion, expect a response.

    As to the posting which was unpublished (depublished?), given the special circumstances which surrounded it, and your refusal to respond to any and all attempts to communicate, what choice did you leave me with? As you know, that article continues to exist and you are still in control of it.

    If you want to get this sorted out, at least talk to me. Private, I suspect, is better than public.

  38. NickM says:

    I have never been offensive to RAB (or any of the rest – just Ian who fucking well deserved it – so don’t start on that score). As far as “private” is concerned is it a co-incidence I was on holiday abroad whilst I was down-graded and whilst SAoT and Julie were brought on board*. I was away for God’s sake! I didn’t ignore you. I was on holiday! I was still down-graded without being told. And that irks.

    I have sweat blood on this blog. Roughly half the posts? So no I won’t shut-up. I have carried this for weeks when you didn’t post a thing and it was just me and (not) you. And I have written good stuff and for the most part (a few cock-ups, natch) I am proud of what I have written. Actually written rather than cut and paste. Too close to the bone is it?

    I even have pictures in pen, ink and pastels for a new look. I did that, so don’t doubt my commitment. If you you want to consider my feelings about a misanthropic jackanapes and professional contrarian like Ian then fine…

    All, I want for Christmas is a CD/DVD of my collected works here with comments. I can supply you with my address if you need. I want that to see how my thought has progressed over the years. It shall not be republished. Hell’s teeth! How could it? I write about the now.

    I don’t ask that as a threat or a promise or anything. I love this site and I am not bugging-out. I just want to see. And you owe me that. For Christmas. And for the years.

    *Not that they aren’t great additions. They are. Spot on.

  39. CountingCats says:

    1, I did not say offensive, I said you treated us with contempt. An accurate description of your approach.

    2, You were downgraded at precisely the point when you treated us all like dog shit in the gutter. You were informed at the time, and you were sufficiently present to otherwise take part in the storm of communications that was happening. Check your emails and get your dates right.

    3, (deleted by CC)

    4, No one is threatening to throw anyone off. That won’t happen. Although, I point out, that is exactly what you did to Ian without reference to anyone else on the site.

    5, All decisions about who joined this site, or not, had been taken jointly. You chose to scrap that procedure, fine, but don’t complain that I later followed the precedent you set.

    6, I have offered you the VM of the site. I can do no more without an address.

    7, We were friends in the past. If you wish to try and repair the damage done then I suggest refusing to communicate isn’t the soundest strategy. You could start by sending me, privately, your address so I can send the VM.

    And yes, to the rest of you reading in bemusement, Nick and myself have never met. He, RAB and Paul Marks have exchanged house visits but the rest of us are too widely scattered.

  40. Single Acts of Tyranny says:

    “Have been for a long time. I seem to remember St. Margaret of Thatcher bought her retirement property through an offshore company although I think that was IHT avoidance back then (1990’s sometime)”

    Details are very sketchy (understandably), but I understand that contracts maybe exchanged abroad and cautions registered at the Land Registry, along with charges, but the alleged ownership is not formally recorded as having changed even though it has actually done so. In essence this is a reversion to the old system of the title deed before the Land Registration Act of (I think) 1925, it’s too late to check Wiki.

    Way to destroy a perfectly good Land Registry system Lib Dems.

  41. Mr Ed says:

    Meanwhile in Amsterdam, a Dutch socialist shows some opportunism that Boris would never dream of.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/netherlands/9719247/Amsterdam-to-create-scum-villages.html

  42. Lynne says:

    Oh, crap! Here we go again indeed. An excellent post taken hostage by this bullshit.

    Shakes head in exasperation and makes for the exit…

  43. Julie near Chicago says:

    SAoT, now I can get through to CCiZ, so I can congratulate you properly and publically on making Autonomous Mind’s Five Best list with this excellent piece on the ungrateful and imbecilic Starbucks. (Promoting the Sith’s self-worshiping CD as just the thing for Christmas in 2008. I never! I wrote them and explained to them that the capitalistic system has done right well by them in their project to make loads of moolah, and that the Sith’s whole program was to destroy it, as he’d made clear already; and told them what I thought of their ingratitude and lack of noticeable grey cells. Oddly enough, I never heard back.)

    So good for you, and also congrats to CCiZ for making the List. *applause*

  44. Lynne says:

    Julie, I think you have missed SAoT’s point about Starbucks. This isn’t just about Starbucks, this is about how corporations pay taxes within the EU and why it is gobsmackingly stupid of the UK government to demand that coporations like Starbucks pay an inflated level of taxation when the EU allows anyone trading within the single market to pay taxes in a region that charges a lower percentage than the UK. Ireland for example.

    The government, in collusion with the dead tree press, is screaming about “unfairness” and clamouring for the blood of tax avoiders even though those same tax avoiders have committed no offence in the eyes of the EU and the single market. All this bad publicity seems to be about smearing and bullying corporations like Starbucks into paying more than the EU says they have too. This is the politics of greed and oppression.

    If our idiotic government want to set the rates of taxation within our own borders and hope to collect in full, then it needs to withdraw from the EU in order to prevent whichever corporation paying a lower rate of tax elsewhere in the EU. Of course, those same coporations will have the choice of moving their businesses out of the UK, to a region that offers more favourable levels of taxation, taking jobs with them. Unfortunately, many British companies have already relocated abroad thanks to unprecedented hikes in the cost of energy making their products uncompetetive. Let’s not mention the other State moneygrabbing scams that strangle commerce and enterprise at birth.

    As for Starbucks products – my personal experience does dictate that their coffee is sith.

    :)

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