Facebook reduces its corporation tax bill. To zero

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Facebook. You've heard of it right? The social media network is moderately popular globally, and in the UK it has 33 million users. So, you'd guess that it might have a fairly substantial corporation tax bill when the accounts are totted up at the end of the year. Guess again. Facebook pays a grand total of £0 on estimated annual UK revenues of £223 million.

Joining a lengthening list of shame that includes Google, Apple Vodafone, Starbucks . . . Facebook is evading any legal challenge to its financial affairs, and presumably relying on its users not to get too concerned about the moral dimensions.

In 2011 Facebook paid a moderately derisory £238,000 in corporation tax. This presumably provoked a stern memo from HQ asking why the hell the company was paying the Limeys anything at all. Despite a 70 percent increase in revenues, they paid nothing the following year.

They managed it by funneling its profits through that compliant little haven of EU financial shenanigans, Ireland, a route pioneered by Google and Apple. Margaret Hodge, the chair of the House of Commons public accounts committee, said it was a deliberate policy to avoid tax.

"This is yet another example of what appears to be deliberate manipulation of accounts of economic activity to deprive the British taxpayer of a rightful tax contribution, according to the profits they make in the UK," she said. "I am getting fed up of this constant stream of stories and little sign of a challenge from HMRC and a strange silence from government."

In the face of government indifference, the only action that might make a difference (as happened to a limited degree with Starbucks) is consumer hostility. So, the truly conscientious consumer now has to use a non-Apple smartphone to update their status on a non-Facebook social media site, using a non-Google browser in a non-Starbucks coffee-shop. Tough ask.

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