The Guardian: Uncut and Full of Cant

On Saturday morning The Guardian decided to give UK Uncut a front page boost.  The protestors managed to shut down three dozen of the 1,720 branches of Barclays bank. Surprised they found any branches to occupy given Saturday opening hours.

The gist of the shabby story was Barclays bankers are evil tax dodgers. The evidence was a hatchet job with the paper making the spurious claim that Barclay’s only paid 1% tax on their £11.6 billion profits. In arriving at a profit before tax figure of £11.6 billion, The Guardian has added the profit from the ongoing business (£4.5 billion) to profits from a disposed business (£726 million) and the gain made on disposal of that business (£6.3 billion) to reach a total of £11.6 billion.

What they chose to ignore however was the total tax take Barclay’s had to pay; payroll taxes, bank levy, non-recoverable VAT, employers NI, SDRT and so on. Over the weekend Tim Worstall and the FCA Blog tore chunks out of the piece:

The article compares the cash paid to HMRC in respect of UK corporation tax in 2009 (£113 million) to the profits generated by the consolidated Barclays group worldwide in 2009. In the UK, tax is paid in arrears, so 2009 taxes would relate to widespread 2008 losses, not 2009 profits.

Multinational companies such as Barclays pay tax in a number of jurisdictions. Generally speaking Barclays only pays UK corporation tax on profits it generated in the UK.  Anything earned outside the UK doesn’t get taxed here. So it’s a howler to compare the UK corporation tax payment to the global consolidated profit. Most of those profits were taxed where they were made.

In 2002 (under Gordon Brown, Chuka), the UK government introduced the substantial shareholdings exemption, a corporation tax exemption for UK businesses disposing of a substantial shareholding in a part of their business. The idea was that businesses should be able to restructure their businesses without having to worry about chargeable gains implications. Barclays are heavily criticised by The Guardian for using it.  The last time that Guido saw this being used was by the, err, Guardian Media Group to save themselves some £60 million of taxes in 2008:

“In 2008 GMG sold half of Auto Trader publisher Trader Media Group and made an exceptional (one-off) profit of more than £300 million. No tax was payable on the return from that sale because under UK law GMG qualified for SSE”

In 2008 The Guardian made £302 million in profits and paid no corporation taxes. The CEO, Carolyn McCall, was paid an £827,000 package. Yet we don’t see the UK Uncut crowd kicking up a stink about The Guardian’s tax structures or their fat cat pay and bonuses.

Over the weekend the Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger (half-a-million a year since you asked) tweeted about Barclay’s offshore holding corporations. Guardian Media Group holds hundreds of millions in assets in a Caymans Island domiciled offshore corporation.

Guido put it to the GMG press office that GMG has £223.8 million invested in an overseas/offshore hedge fund managed by Cambridge Associates which trades currency derivatives. They don’t deny it and have declined to confirm the fund’s structure for tax purposes.

Guardian readers seem to be under the illusion that it is owned by a not-for-profit charity. The Scott Trust was wound up in October 2008 and the Guardian is a for-profit-privately-owned media business, the well paid directors of which confirm in their annual accounts that they operate tax strategies in line with their fiduciary duty to the shareholders – just like any other business.

The old Scott Trust was set up in 1936 to avoid inheritance taxes and wound up in 2008 so that GMG could cynically exploit the SSE capital gains tax shelter to pay 0% in corporation taxes on their £302 million in profits that year. GMG claim that it was about modernising the holding structure, in fact it was a disingenuous cover for corporate venality.

For three quarters of a century the The Guardian has been shirking taxes, Guido has no problem with them acting in their shareholders’ best interests. The hypocritical cant from them however about others doing the same is beyond contemptible…



Tip offs: 0709 284 0531
team@Order-order.com

GuidoFawkes Quote of the Day

Labour’s Austin Mitchell muses on the campaign:

“What’s the problem? No use pointing at the leader. Too late to change and unnecessary for Miliband is doing well at Question Time. His problem is connecting with the real world. He doesn`t speak people and his protective team of naive kids are playing West Wing rather than letting the leader relate to real people. We could point at the party, shrunk in numbers and enthusiasm because everything, from policy formulation to candidate selection, comes top down rather than bubbling up from below so campaigning becomes the opium of members deprived of any real role, though they`re not even sure what they’re campaigning about, with or for, but its role is marginal.”

Top Posts This Week

Guidogram: Sign up

Subscribe to the most succinct 7 days a week daily email read by thousands of Westminster insiders.

Facebook

Page 3 Totty Back in Print Page 3 Totty Back in Print
Martin Freeman on Private Healthcare Martin Freeman on Private Healthcare
GREENPEACE POLL: MAJORITY OF PEOPLE WANT FRACKING GREENPEACE POLL: MAJORITY OF PEOPLE WANT FRACKING
#Guido4Bucks #Guido4Bucks
FANCY DEPORTING FARAGE? FANCY DEPORTING FARAGE?
GUARDIAN ELECTION DEBATE MASH-UP GUARDIAN ELECTION DEBATE MASH-UP

Chuka Flashback: People Like Zero-Hours Contracts Chuka Flashback: People Like Zero-Hours Contracts
SMART METER PROGRAMME’S DIGITAL ACTIVITY WASTE SMART METER PROGRAMME’S DIGITAL ACTIVITY WASTE
MASK SLIPS FROM GREENPEACE ‘HEALTH CHARITY’ FRONT MASK SLIPS FROM GREENPEACE ‘HEALTH CHARITY’ FRONT
PM Gets Last Word On Thursday PM Gets Last Word On Thursday
FOXY BARONESS’ WEBSITE BORKED FOXY BARONESS’ WEBSITE BORKED
Labour: The Party of Benefits Labour: The Party of Benefits
GOVERNMENT DIGITAL SERVICE BEATS MICROSOFT INTO SUBMISSION GOVERNMENT DIGITAL SERVICE BEATS MICROSOFT INTO SUBMISSION
EUROPOL CHIEF: SNAPCHAT GREATEST TERRORIST THREAT EUROPOL CHIEF: SNAPCHAT GREATEST TERRORIST THREAT
Sky News Ballot Ballad Sky News Ballot Ballad
WATCH: UKIP Pledge Card Revealed WATCH: UKIP Pledge Card Revealed
Mini Wars Mini Wars
OZZIE NUMPTY EMAILS DAVID CAMERON’S PASSPORT NUMBER TO ASIAN FOOTBALLERS OZZIE NUMPTY EMAILS DAVID CAMERON’S PASSPORT NUMBER TO ASIAN FOOTBALLERS
Hell? Yes Hell? Yes
Cameron’s Last Speech in Downing Street (Before the Election) Cameron’s Last Speech in Downing Street (Before the Election)
Free Sun Advertising On the BBC Free Sun Advertising On the BBC
Downing Street Fighting Like Cats and Dogs Downing Street Fighting Like Cats and Dogs
Lucy Powell Falls Apart Under Questioning Lucy Powell Falls Apart Under Questioning
Feminist Jazz Hands Explained Feminist Jazz Hands Explained
WALTER MITTY CV OF ANTI-FRACKING CANDIDATE WALTER MITTY CV OF ANTI-FRACKING CANDIDATE
Cassetteboy v Cameron and Farage Cassetteboy v Cameron and Farage
MICROSOFT SHAKES DOWN PUBLIC SECTOR FOR DOSH MICROSOFT SHAKES DOWN PUBLIC SECTOR FOR DOSH
WATCH: Toby Young Skewers Labour Zero Hours Contract Attack Line WATCH: Toby Young Skewers Labour Zero Hours Contract Attack Line
MAIL TRICKED INTO QUOTING BATMAN FILM IN PLANE CRASH COVERAGE MAIL TRICKED INTO QUOTING BATMAN FILM IN PLANE CRASH COVERAGE
ANTI-FRACKING PARLIAMENTARY CANDIDATE WANTED TO WORK FOR FRACKERS ANTI-FRACKING PARLIAMENTARY CANDIDATE WANTED TO WORK FOR FRACKERS