Town traders move ‘offshore’ to ‘nudge’ government into ending corporate tax avoidance

Congratulations are due to traders in Crickhowell – very near the home of Vox Political – who are using the tools of corporate tax avoiders against them.

The Powys Tax Rebellion, as it has become known, began when independent traders decided they weren’t prepared to pay huge amounts of tax while the likes of Google and Starbucks avoided paying billions. They formed a consortium with its own tax plan – and want to encourage others to do the same.

This is where the scheme turns out to be doubly clever.

You see, for the past few years the Cameron government has been using coercive strategies to ‘nudge’ people into behaviour they would not otherwise display – pushing benefit claimants into carrying out all sorts of silly exercises for no very good reason is a prime example.

With this scheme, participants in the Powys Tax Rebellion are forcing the government to play its own game – ‘nudging’ David Cameron and George Osborne towards tax reforms that might – just might – make the system fairer for everybody.

They wouldn’t do it on their own; they wouldn’t do it under persuasion. Now they are being forced to face the possible loss of billions from small businesses who have had enough.

And it’s about time.

Vox Political is hoping to be able to signpost interested parties towards details of the scheme and information on how they can use it in the very near future. For now, here’s how The Independent reported on the rebellion:

When independent traders in a small Welsh town discovered the loopholes used by multinational giants to avoid paying UK tax, they didn’t just get mad.

Now local businesses in Crickhowell are turning the tables on the likes of Google and Starbucks by employing the same accountancy practices used by the world’s biggest companies, to move their entire town “offshore”.

Advised by experts and followed by a BBC crew, family-run shops in the Brecon Beacons town have submitted their own DIY tax plan to HMRC, copying the offshore arrangements used by global brands which pay little or no corporation tax.

The Powys tax rebellion, led by traders including the town’s salmon smokery, local coffee shop, book shop, optician and bakery, could spread nationwide.

Crickhowell residents want to share their tax avoidance plan with other towns, in a bid to force the Treasury into legislation to crack down on loopholes which allowed the likes of Amazon to pay just £11.9m of tax last year on £5.3bn of UK internet sales.

Source: Crickhowell: Welsh town moves ‘offshore’ to avoid tax on local business | UK | News | The Independent

UPDATE November 11, 2015: Jo Carthew, of Black Mountains Smokery, one of the businesses involved in the Powys Tax Rebellion, said: “”As one of many family businesses based in the small town of Crickhowell, who rely heavily on visitors and tourism, we need to protect our independent high street from big brands.

“We believe in paying tax but firmly believe that big companies should pay their fair share too. The concept we have come up with will hopefully demonstrate that, in principle, small businesses working in coalition could become more tax efficient by mimicking strategies used by multinationals.

“We intend this to serve as a ‘threat’ to government rather than a ‘promise’ – an incentive to encourage them to close loopholes in the tax laws.”

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11 thoughts on “Town traders move ‘offshore’ to ‘nudge’ government into ending corporate tax avoidance

  1. Mr.Angry

    How absolutely refreshing to hear a story like this in our present depressing climate. I wish them all the luck in the world. Only wish I was still in business I would be right along side them. Well done.

      1. Terry Jager

        Mimicking bad behaviour is still in it’s self bad behaviour whatever the intentions , it’s a tacit form of agreement or at least acceptance of the practice of avoidance . I take the point being made & the wish to highlite the issue ,but i am sure the issues are known by just about everyone (at some level) yet nothing changes ….. i suspect as long as its not tory money being collected in tax ,george and chums will be ok with just about anything .lack of public services is less of a worry when your rich enough to pay for what you want .

      2. Mike Sivier Post author

        So you don’t accept the point that the government is being ‘nudged’ towards changing the system?
        How many more towns, cities and other groupings will have to start up schemes like this before you do?
        Your initial point is a good one, but what alternative do you suggest? Sitting back meekly and paying up while others laugh all the way to the offshore bank?

      3. Terry Jager

        “Nudged “…. not even with a bulldozer ,if any change comes from this it still won’t be a level playing field ,it simply doesn’t suit them or there party backers .this action as clever as it is could be an own goal for anyone with socalist leanings …consider this :- From a tory party which wants to privatise /monetize everything , having a large uptake of small businesses do the same activities as multi nationals is a green light to stopping even more ‘state interferance’ in business affairs right up to the point of the death of the wellfare state as we have known it ,The state giving nothing and taking nothing (beyond its own self preservation). I live in tory town (John Wittingdale MP) this twisted logic exists and is for a few the ideal !
        To answer the last point (removes tin foil hat) what’s to be done ? sitting back meekly is not the answer .unlawfull action is not the answer either ,the answer is and always was Labour ,not what it became recently but what it was originaly about ,fairness in our society for all ,it’s not an instant fix nor will it be achieved with the tory wannabe’s in the party to block the changes ,it took the exodus of millions of labour voters to awaken the party to this but i do belive it’s started ,clean up /out the party and go to work is my message .For what its worth i think those millions of voters will return in even greater numbers if …if the Labour party go’s into the next general election with Corbin and without tristram hunt & co .
        If your waiting for the tory’s to do the right thing (even under pressure) you will have a bloody long wait .

      4. Mike Sivier Post author

        If enough people followed this plan, it wouldn’t have to reach the point at which the state was unable to function – public outcry would be too much and the government would find it necessary to change the system before it was forced out – or so it seems to me.
        Unlawful action certainly isn’t the answer. Fortunately for the traders of Crickhowell, their action is perfectly legal.
        I do agree with you about the Labour Party’s recent renaissance.

  2. Barry Davies

    I don’t know how it will work for them but I wish them well in their enterprise it is about time the small business’ struck back. It is hard enough for them to survive without having to pay more tax to support the big guys.

  3. shaunt

    It is odd that until very recently that newspapers have not been driving home the point of how difficult. and unfair. it is for small businesses to compete with multi-national corporations when the ordinary little folk pay taxes while the latter go ‘off-shore’. I’ve always thought, in many respects, that what the media does not cover is more enlightening than what they actually cover.

Comments are closed.