Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Great Olympic Tax Swindle

In a time of austerity, when people are finding it hard to make ends meet. The government are arranging a billion pounds of our money to be used to fund the Great Olympic Tax Swindle. Large multinational companies get to sponsor the Olympics in turn for which all the money they make they get to keep tax free!

The new legislation also exempts all foreign nationals working on the games in the UK from paying income tax on any earnings. Thousands will be exempt from taxation from competitors to media workers (including journalists, technicians and producers) to representatives of official Games bodies and technical officials (including judges, referees and classifiers) along with the athletes themselves. 

This tactic of ‘reduce your tax thresholds or we’ll take our business elsewhere’ has long been used by financial elites in tax havens but it is now being extended, albeit on a temporary basis, to countries with usually strong legislators via major sporting events from the FIFA World Cup to the London Olympics. Some of the laws have already been extended to cover the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow in 2014, and this process of relaxing tax rules looks set to continue with costs borne, as ever, by ordinary tax payers. 

So, despite putting severe weight on London’s public infrastructure, those profiting from the games and many of those working at them will be exempt from tax. In a time of austerity this is money the Exchequer can hardly afford to loose, especially when it has already paid out somewhere in the region of £11 billion to fund many parts of the project.

So you could be like me and boycott the sponsor companies. Do you remember in 1995 when Shell decided to dump a drilling platform in the Atlantic. I have never purchased a Shell branded product since. [1]

And there are more people boycotting products than you might think. Research carried out by the Co-operative bank in 2007 put the value of UK boycotts at around £2,500million - food and drink boycotts were valued at £1,144m, travel boycotts £817m, and clothing boycotts £338m.

More recent research by YouGov showed that half of customers will boycott companies that fail to give good service. Four in five people will tell friends and family not to use firms that disappoint. Another quarter put negative reviews online. While research for the 2010 Ethical Consumerism Report revealed that 55% avoided a product or service because of a company’ behaviour. 

[1] When Shell decided in the 1990s that it had no longer any use for the Brent Spar – a 14,500 tonne oil platform it had been operating in the North Sea – the company applied to the UK government to be allowed to dump the entire installation in the Atlantic Ocean. The government had no objections; it announced its full support. Greenpeace decided to take action as part of its long-running campaign against ocean dumping. On 30 April 1995, activists occupied the Brent Spar. The tense and tumultuous weeks that followed saw Greenpeace pitted against the combined forces of the UK government and the world’s then-largest oil company. Dramatic visual footage of activists being attacked with water cannons and relief teams being flown in by helicopter brought the stand-off to a massive audience. Spontaneous protests in support of Greenpeace and against Shell broke out across Europe. Some Shell stations in Germany reported a 50 per cent loss of sales. In the end, public pressure proved too much for Shell: in a dramatic win for Greenpeace and the ocean environment, the company reversed its decision and agreed to dismantle and recycle the platform on land. 


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