In blizzard conditions, 25 people demonstrated inside and outside the Hackney branch of Marks and Spencers on UKUnCut’s national day of action against coporate tax avoiders, ‘Pay Day’. Amid chants of “Marks and Spencers Pay Your Tax” demonstrators, supported by Hackney Alliance to Defend Public Services, handed out hundreds of leaflets to shoppers inside and ourside on the Narroway with overwhelming public support. Marks and Spencers pay tax at a significantly low rate and Richard Murphey of Tax Research Blog estimates they have underpaid tax by £589 between 2005 and 2009. While Phillip Green’s tax avoidance is blatent, Marks and Spencers is more a case of systemic low tax rates for coprorations and the rich. While ordinary people have to pay their tax at the official rates, or go to prison, it seems massive corporations like M&S, Arcadia, Vodafone and HSBC can choose to pay what they like, all to the detriment of the public purse, while we are told our services must be cut to pay for govt. debt. Other songs that got an enthusiastic airing were ” If you don’t pay your taxes we’ll shut you down” and a rousing “Marks and Spencers, we’ll be back” after everyone left after an hour.
” If M & S had paid tax at the UK headline rate from 2005 to 2009 (five years) then they would have paid £589 million more in current tax. If it had just paid the tax it declared on its profit and loss account it would have paid £492 million extra. This needs putting in context: it apparently costs £162 million a year to provide school sport, or about £810 million over five years. M & S could have paid for 72% of that if it had paid the full rate of UK tax on its profits or 60% if it had just settled the tax it advertised it paid.” http://www.taxresearch.org.uk/Documents/M&S.pdf
photos to follow