Tax Justice campaigners had a small demonstration outside the Guardian’s offices today to protest at the hypocrisy of the Guardian campaigning for FTSE 100 companies to pay more corporation tax when, despite GMG making £300 million in profits last year, it paid none itself. GMG took advantage of a perfectly legal loophole to avoid paying taxes on the capital gains made on the sale of Auto Trader. Without exploiting the law they would have had to pay more than £50 million in tax!
The campaigners also highlighted that as well as being adept tax avoiders nowadays, the Guardian’s heritage is one of tax evasion. The Trust that owns the paper, the C P Scott Trust, was set up for the sole purpose of avoiding death duties following the 1932 death of C P Scott. By depriving the revenue of its due, the Scott family succeeded in avoiding the heavy taxes which would have otherwise meant them selling their interest in the paper. Neat dodge, eh? What did the Guardian say about Osborne’s plan to raise inheritance tax thresholds?
It is ridiculous hypocrisy for the GMG fatcats to lecture the CEO’s of British industry on paying more corporation tax when they don’t pay a penny themselves. At the very least they should voluntarily pay the £600,000 that would have been payable as a result of the Auto Trader transaction on the transfer of GMG Hazel Acquisition 1 Limited (a Caymans incorporated Special Purpose Vehicle) if it had been incorporated in the UK rather than the Caymans. If they won’t pay the £600,000 to the Revenue, why do they expect other corporations to behave differently? Hypocrites.