It seems private companies that have won contracts from the publicly-funded National Health Service in England are avoiding tax.
Should they be allowed to keep their contracts if they aren’t willing to contribute to the system that pays them?
One of the biggest suppliers of equipment and testing services to the NHS pays barely any corporate tax in the UK, despite receiving hundreds of millions of pounds a year from medical sales to British clinics and hospitals.
A study of GE Healthcare’s accounts by The Independent suggests it has received more money back in tax benefits over the past 12 years than it has paid in, with the taxpayer appearing to be missing out on millions of pounds a year in lost revenues.
The company has been headquartered in Buckinghamshire since 2003 when its vast US owner, General Electric, bought the British multinational medical firm Nycomed Amersham. It makes scanners and other equipment used in areas such as oncology and heart disease.
Nycomed Amersham typically used to pay up to £8m in corporation tax to the Exchequer every year, plus £50m to £90m more abroad. But in the 12 years since its takeover by GE, the UK divisions examined by The Independent made a total net gain of £1.6m in benefits from the taxman.
GE is notorious in the US for avoiding taxes. News of its tax situation here will inevitably lead to questions about its success in winning contracts from the publicly funded NHS, which is struggling to find savings of £22bn.
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