By Lord Ashcroft
Over the last few weeks we have heard a good deal about the tiny amounts of corporation tax being paid in the UK by companies like Starbucks, Amazon and Google. Executives from all three were grilled by the Public Accounts Committee last month; others are sure to follow.
The problem, in a nutshell, is this. Overseas subsidiaries of global companies, incorporated in countries with lower tax rates, can charge royalties to fellow subsidiaries in the UK, or supply goods with a mark up, in order to channel profits between the two subsidiaries and therefore between countries. The effect is to reduce the profits of the part of the business based in Britain, and therefore the tax payable here.