The Mail published some interesting, but limited data on Sunday suggesting the lack of information on which companies registered on the FTSE 100 do and do not disclose the tax they pay in the UK, and how much of the tax those who do make declaration do pay here.
It’s about £1 in every £7, it transpires. And we must acknowledge that the headquarters of these businesses are responsible for a significant chunk of the profits. But that’s not what the tax position shows is it?
But we must not acknowledge that when the group is headquartered overseas, obviously.
Now I admit I spoke to the Mail about this research, and am quoted in the article, and that is the best thing in it by a long way. However, the godawful Belinda Dodwell is also quoted:
Belinda Dodwell, headmistress of tax policy at accountant Deloitte, said the research showed raw figures didn’t tell the full story. ‘Unless you have some explanation [around each tax bill] you can’t tell what’s going on,’ she said.
Now that’s fascinating because you see what Belinda is saying is that because we don’t know in which country the companies really make their profit, and also in which country they really pay their tax, and we don’t have a tax note for each country, we shouldn’t be commenting on the tax a company pays, and that because we don’t have a GRAPIST and unitary taxation we can’t do anything about it.
That’s the logical and unmistakeable conclusion from this single edited sentence in her response to the headline summary that the Daily Mail produced. Unless I’m some sort of paranoid nutcase, that is.
Or to put it another way, what Belinda Dodwell is saying is that unless and until we have county-by-county reporting and shareholder-by-shareholder reporting for multinational corporations we won’t really understand their tax data. Well, she won’t. I will because I’m actually a tax expert.
But now let’s look at what Belinda Dodwell told the Public Accounts Committee on 31 January:
Q213 Ian Swales MP: Do you think that global—we are now into the vision part— companies should have to report their turnover, profits and tax in each country in their reports?
Belinda Dodwell: No, we do not support that.
Q214 Ian Swales MP: Why would you not support that?
Belinda Dodwell: Really for the reasons that I think many of the chief executives and chairman of FTSE 100 companies have covered in their replies to, I think, Stephen McPartland. Essentially, they are pointing out the huge cost of it, the complexity and, in some cases, the commercial confidentiality, but I do think it is possible to reach a better system.
So, Belinda Dodwell is categorically stating beyond doubt that we can’t understand tax in multinational corporation’s accounts without county-by-county reporting and shareholder-by-shareholder reporting but at the same time opposes us having county-by-county reporting and shareholder-by-shareholder reporting because she says it would create a lot more work for accountants.
Now why would that be Belinda, you illogical tramp? You’re in favour of less work for accountants and auditors, aren’t you Belinda? Because that’s not what Deloitte do at all.
It is also because you like keeping secrets. Why you wouldn’t tell me where you were going for lunch whenever I asked you when we were on the GAAR panel? Why wouldn’t you tell me which hotel you were staying in?
I was just asking.