Friday, December 7, 2012

Pledge to HMRC notwithstanding, Starbucks sit-in is on

Check out the logo. It juxtaposes the austerity-driven dismantling of the welfare state against an apparent cause: high-profile taxpayers with available wealth who are withholding it from society.

I don't know if it works for an uninformed passerby--could it not rather convey something about Starbucks' giving nature, Starbucks aligned in the cause? Hey, Starbucks is giving HMRC £20m, that more than covers the £5.6m that "is being directly cut from domestic violence services," per the activists! Sure, we're all in this together!

Not so fast, says UKUncut:
Offering to pay some tax if and when it suits you doesn’t stop you being a tax dodger. Starbucks have been avoiding tax for over a decade and continue to deny that it paid too little tax in the past. Today’s announcement is just a desperate attempt to deflect public pressure. There’s no money yet, and hollow promises on press releases don’t fund women’s refuges or child benefits.
 As a result, UK Uncut is planning 40 'actions' across the UK: "People will be transforming Starbucks stores into refuges, crèches and other services which the government are cutting with their unjust and unnecessary austerity plans.”

Also, isn't Starbucks' decision in conflict with it's duty to maximize shareholder profits? Maybe this an opportunity to bring a lawsuit charging breach, arguing that Starbucks' duty is to pay the lowest amount of taxes it possibly can under the law. If the suit fails (debatable--in the US anyway), it might help lay to rest the fiction that the shareholder is the only relevant stakeholder in the scope of managers' fiduciary duties.

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