Tax fairness turning tide for tax havens

| 11/10/2011

(BBC): Around the world, grassroots opposition to tax avoidance is on the rise. But a survey shows that all but two of the UK's biggest 100 companies have subsidiaries in tax havens, from the Cayman Islands to Singapore. So is big business out of step with public opinion? In recent months, a loose coalition on "tax fairness" has emerged, uniting angry taxpayers, business ethics pressure groups and development NGOs. The focus is now on tax avoidance – legal arrangements to pay less tax, sometimes using complicated financial structures – rather than just illegal tax evasion.

One of the campaigning groups, charity ActionAid, has just released data that shows, it says, the "addiction" of the FTSE 100 – the UK's most valuable companies – to tax havens. The data should have been publicly available, ActionAid says, but in many cases wasn't – the charity obtained it by filing complaints to Companies House. Then it counted how many subsidiaries each of the 100 companies has, and the proportion of them that are located in a tax haven.

Of the FTSE 100's 34,216 subsidiaries, about a quarter – 8,492 – are in tax havens.

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