Independent traders in a small Welsh town have decided to take their businesses ‘offshore’.
Employing similar tax avoidance schemes to major corporations like Starbucks and Google, family-run shops in Crickhowell are hoping to find a way to not pay UK tax.
They’ve been advised by experts, and now the local run shops in the Brecon Beacons have submitted their tax plan to HMRC, copying the offshore loopholes used by global brands who pay little or no corporation tax, The Independent reports.
And the Powys tax rebellion, as it’s known, could soon spread nationwide, as residents in Crickhowell want to share the plan with other towns.
The reason they’re doing it is to try and force the Treasury into passing legislation cracking down on the loopholes the town is exploiting, which reportedly allow Amazon to only pay £11.9m of tax on £3.5bn of UK sales last year.
The whole thing is going to appear in a BBC2 documentary called The Town that Went Offshore. In it locals say they’re angry that companies like Café Nero haven’t paid corporation tax since 2008, even though they’ve recorded sales worth about £1.2 billion.
Jo Carthew runs Crickhowell’s Black Mountain Smokery, selling local produce with her family. She said:
We were shocked to discover that the revenue generated by hard-working employees in these British high street chains isn’t declared. We do want to pay our taxes because we all use local schools and hospitals but we want a change of law so everyone pays their fair share.
Until now, these complicated offshore tricks have only been open to big companies who can afford the lawyers’ fees. But we’ve put our heads together, and worked out a way to mimic them. It’s jolly clever.
Mrs Carthew said when they submitted their offshore tax plan they had a ‘very good meeting’ with HMRC, adding: “It’s a threat to the Government because if they don’t act this could be rolled out to every town. Everything we have proposed is legal.”
One of the local traders discovered he actually paid seven times more corporation tax than Facebook – the social media giant shelled out less than £5,000 in the UK last year.
Steve owns a coffee shop in Crickhowell. He summed the situation up nicely: “I have always paid every penny of tax I owe, and I don’t object to that. What I object to is paying my full tax when my big name competitors are doing the damnedest to dodge theirs.”