The Guardian makes massive profit on Auto-Trader sale and pays no corporation tax – Civil Society demands it

I see that arch-neoliberal sophist Tim Worstall is insinuating that the Guardian is avoiding tax by using the substantial shareholding exemption on its sale of Auto Trader owner, Trader Media Group.

Well, the substantial shareholding exemption is clearly mandated by law and there is nothing the Guardian could possibly do to get around it. I am sure that they have tried to maximise the tax liability on the transaction, but I s

But, what do we expect the Guardian to do exactly? Pay more tax than is legally due? Civil Society balks at the idea of law-abiding businesses and citizens being bullied into paying more than their fair share.

And they are indeed paying their fair share as stipulated by law. It just so happens that their fair share on the sale of £600m of shares is nothing. And it just so happens that their fair share on their annual turnover of £250m is nothing.

But that is exactly what the law says it should be. And that law is set by our democratic representatives. Which means that Civil Society has indeed demanded that the Guardian pays no tax whatsoever.

Civil Society, on the other hand, thinks that transfer pricing rules, rules of permanent establishment, capital allowances, utilisation of losses, the difference in rates of tax between incorporated and unincorporated entities, the patent box, research and development tax credits, the rules on non-doms, world debt cap, CFCs, the GAAR, enterprise investment schemes, film tax relief, entrepreneurs relief, the low rate of CGT and so on, are all established through non-democratic methods.

As such, any business which obeys those laws is doing so against the will of Parliament and the demands of Civil Society. They are therefore avoiding tax by immorally obeying the law as it was intended.

Of course, many businesses do use SSE in a way not intended by Parliament, which I assure you the Guardian is not doing here. So many other businesses using the SSE are also avoiding tax.

Therefore, the Guardian is acting legally. It is also acting morally because it is paying what is determined by the law, even though it would dearly love to pay more.

All I can possibly say on this matter, is that the Guardian is observing the wishes of Civil Society in the most dignified manner.


11 thoughts on “The Guardian makes massive profit on Auto-Trader sale and pays no corporation tax – Civil Society demands it

  1. Pingback: Murphy Richards on The Guardioan’s Autotrader tax bill | Tim Worstall

  2. Thank you for the insightful article.

    ‘Of course, many businesses do use SSE in a way not intended by Parliament, which I assure you the Guardian is not doing here’

    For what reason other than legal tax avoidance would GMG have for, after years being established in such a way that would have incurred a tax liability, switching to being an SSE just months before the first sale of shares in Autotrader?

  3. Murphy, the Guardian is the legitimate voice of Civil Society and an institutional member of Civil Society. It is also the only broadsheet in the UK speaking truth to power. As a member of Civil Society it is ipso facto incapable of tax evasion or avoidance. That would be like stealing from the left pocket of your trousers and putting the money into your right pocket.
    In that respect it is like the Trade Unions, which are also incapable of tax avoidance and evasion.

    This is in contrast to most other businesses and persons who are not members of the Civil Society to which clearly you (and I hope I) belong. Those persons are sociopaths and almost everything they do has a tax avoidance motive. More tax inspectors are required to extract extra cash from them for the artificial schemes they use to avoid tax, such as ISAs, pension contributions and capital allowances.

  4. As i recollect it, the Guardian ran a series of very irate articles making clear that it expected other people to pay tax that was not legally due. Accordingly it is difficult to see why they should not be expected to follow their own moral principles and do the same. Accordingly while you are right in saying that they are acting legally, I would question whether they are also acting morally by paying what is determined by law when that conflicts with the principle that they have publicly expounded that people should volunteer to pay more than the law requires.

  5. Surely there cannot be a tax avoidance motive if the disposal proceeds are to be used to prop up a newspaper quite rightly using many column inches to oppose multinational businesses; all of which, by definition, engage in tax avoidance? The tax laws should ignore what has happened and anticipate the future so that only neoliberals would be taxed and not the followers of Civil Society. What could be fairer and more objective than that?

    • You do not incorrectly stumble upon the not wrong answer Stephen, though you are incomprehensibly incorrect due to your obvious neoliberal political bias.

      Objectivity would invariably be twisted by the sociopathic tax profession to act against The State’s ability to secure the revenues it rightly deserves. My GRAPIST suffers from no such flaw

      The Guardian successfully disperses money into the UK economy for the greater good of Civil Society

      Had we more loss-making businesses such as the Guardian, the UK economy would be on very firm footing by now

      • “The Guardian successfully disperses money into the UK economy for the greater good of Civil Society”.

        Murphy this is an excellent point and I wonder therefore whether your oft-repeated suggestion on pension fund contributions attracting income tax relief might apply here – ie pension contributions would only qualify for tax relief if the fund invested in something that was of benefit to Civil Society, such as a loss-making company like the Guardian, and not in gilts or profitable companies?

  6. Pingback: The official expert of choice for intellectual newspapers | The Justice for Taxes Network

  7. Pingback: Margaret Hodge is democracy so everyone should shut up and listen to her | The Justice for Taxes Network

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