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The Great Tax Robbery: How Britain Became a Tax Haven for Fat Cats and Big Business

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Investigative journalist and former tax-inspector Richard Brooks charts how the UK has become a global tax haven that serves the super wealthy, all with the Government’s help. Discover: • Why thousands of British state schools and NHS hospitals are owned by shell companies based in offshore tax havens • How British companies like Vodafone strongly influence tax laws • Why mul Investigative journalist and former tax-inspector Richard Brooks charts how the UK has become a global tax haven that serves the super wealthy, all with the Government’s help. Discover: • Why thousands of British state schools and NHS hospitals are owned by shell companies based in offshore tax havens • How British companies like Vodafone strongly influence tax laws • Why multinationals like Google and Starbucks can operate almost tax-free in the UK • How the taxman turns a blind eye to billions in illegally evaded tax in secret Swiss bank accounts • How footballers like Wayne Rooney use image rights companies to reduce their tax liability Unpicking the tangled mess of loopholes that well known multinationals, bankers, and celebrities use to circumvent tax, this is a bold manifesto for a system where we all contribute out fair share.


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Investigative journalist and former tax-inspector Richard Brooks charts how the UK has become a global tax haven that serves the super wealthy, all with the Government’s help. Discover: • Why thousands of British state schools and NHS hospitals are owned by shell companies based in offshore tax havens • How British companies like Vodafone strongly influence tax laws • Why mul Investigative journalist and former tax-inspector Richard Brooks charts how the UK has become a global tax haven that serves the super wealthy, all with the Government’s help. Discover: • Why thousands of British state schools and NHS hospitals are owned by shell companies based in offshore tax havens • How British companies like Vodafone strongly influence tax laws • Why multinationals like Google and Starbucks can operate almost tax-free in the UK • How the taxman turns a blind eye to billions in illegally evaded tax in secret Swiss bank accounts • How footballers like Wayne Rooney use image rights companies to reduce their tax liability Unpicking the tangled mess of loopholes that well known multinationals, bankers, and celebrities use to circumvent tax, this is a bold manifesto for a system where we all contribute out fair share.

30 review for The Great Tax Robbery: How Britain Became a Tax Haven for Fat Cats and Big Business

  1. 4 out of 5

    Simon Wood

    WE'RE ALL IN IT TOGETHER MY ARSE While the coalition and their fellow travellers in the media hark on about structural deficits, the necessity of reforming (read: destroying) the already emaciated welfare state, and how over-taxing those poor souls earning £150K+ a year will bring ruin to the country, former tax inspector for Her Majesties Revenues & Customs (HMRC) and current Private Eye reporter Richard Brooks has been looking into the issue of taxation, in particular the levels of tax dodging WE'RE ALL IN IT TOGETHER MY ARSE While the coalition and their fellow travellers in the media hark on about structural deficits, the necessity of reforming (read: destroying) the already emaciated welfare state, and how over-taxing those poor souls earning £150K+ a year will bring ruin to the country, former tax inspector for Her Majesties Revenues & Customs (HMRC) and current Private Eye reporter Richard Brooks has been looking into the issue of taxation, in particular the levels of tax dodging by big, usually transnational business and obscenely rich individuals. The results of his investigations, informed by years of experience in Government, are collated together in "The Great Tax Robbery" and make extremely disturbing reading. The opening chapter "Welcome to Tax Dodge City" with its series of graphs makes clear the dimensions of the problem, such as that during dozen years leading up to 2011 corporate profits have went up by over 50% but corporation tax receipts have been flat (and at a rate well below the headline rate of corporation tax). Over the same period the amount of corporation tax paid by small companies has increased from 15% of the total to 35% to the benefit of big (largely transnational) business. It also details the complete lack of correlation between tax rates and economic growth over time (in the UK) and across the OECD: in short the oft repeated canard that taxation will bring the economy to a grinding halt is to put it politely horses#!t. The book goes on to explore how big business and wealthy individuals go about dodging taxation and looks into the four major accountancy firms which promote and arrange tax dodging (at the same time as profiting from government contracts); how the Public Private Partnerships, heartily embraced by the Blair/Brown government, have become a tax dodgers wet dream; the cosy relationship that grew up between HMRC and large business during the Blair era; how transfer pricing works; the links between the City of London and politicians from all parties, for instance 6 of the top 10 Tory donors make/made their money in the City; the fraudulent nature of coalition claims to be cracking down on tax dodging when in fact the exact opposite is happening; how the current tax regime warp the economy and privilege large corporations and the obscenely wealthy over smaller generally local businesses and ordinary working people. One of the most disturbing revelations is the fact that individuals from companies that are clearly dodging taxes are being placed in positions to influence, if not write, new tax law and regulations. In a half way civilised society the facts revealed within would be a major and on-going scandal, instead we have occasional reporting that gives little idea of the whole picture. But what else can be expected from a media industry which is a member of the tax dodging fraternity itself? Brooks puts the facts before the reader in a straightforward readable prose that is often dryly amusing, and has done well to describe the methods used by tax dodgers such as transfer pricing in a way that is comprehensible to the general reader. He also draws on a rich range of real world examples to illustrate his arguments. Overall this is a book I can hardly praise enough, one that deserves as wide a readership as possible and is indispensable to anyone interested in social justice or even just basic sense of decency. 110% Recommended. An excellent companion volume to this book would be Nicholas Shasxson's "Treasure Islands: Tax Havens and the Men who Stole the World".

  2. 4 out of 5

    Simon Wood

    WE'RE ALL IN IT TOGETHER MY ARSE While the coalition and their fellow travellers in the media hark on about structural deficits, the necessity of reforming (read: destroying) the already emaciated welfare state, and how over-taxing those poor souls earning £150K+ a year will bring ruin to the country, former tax inspector for Her Majesties Revenues & Customs (HMRC) and current Private Eye reporter Richard Brooks has been looking into the issue of taxation, in particular the levels of tax dodging WE'RE ALL IN IT TOGETHER MY ARSE While the coalition and their fellow travellers in the media hark on about structural deficits, the necessity of reforming (read: destroying) the already emaciated welfare state, and how over-taxing those poor souls earning £150K+ a year will bring ruin to the country, former tax inspector for Her Majesties Revenues & Customs (HMRC) and current Private Eye reporter Richard Brooks has been looking into the issue of taxation, in particular the levels of tax dodging by big, usually transnational business and obscenely rich individuals. The results of his investigations, informed by years of experience in Government, are collated together in "The Great Tax Robbery" and make extremely disturbing reading. The opening chapter "Welcome to Tax Dodge City" with its series of graphs makes clear the dimensions of the problem, such as that during dozen years leading up to 2011 corporate profits have went up by over 50% but corporation tax receipts have been flat (and at a rate well below the headline rate of corporation tax). Over the same period the amount of corporation tax paid by small companies has increased from 15% of the total to 35% to the benefit of big (largely transnational) business. It also details the complete lack of correlation between tax rates and economic growth over time (in the UK) and across the OECD: in short the oft repeated canard that taxation will bring the economy to a grinding halt is to put it politely horses#!t. The book goes on to explore how big business and wealthy individuals go about dodging taxation and looks into the four major accountancy firms which promote and arrange tax dodging (at the same time as profiting from government contracts); how the Public Private Partnerships, heartily embraced by the Blair/Brown government, have become a tax dodgers wet dream; the cosy relationship that grew up between HMRC and large business during the Blair era; how transfer pricing works; the links between the City of London and politicians from all parties, for instance 6 of the top 10 Tory donors make/made their money in the City; the fraudulent nature of coalition claims to be cracking down on tax dodging when in fact the exact opposite is happening; how the current tax regime warp the economy and privilege large corporations and the obscenely wealthy over smaller generally local businesses and ordinary working people. One of the most disturbing revelations is the fact that individuals from companies that are clearly dodging taxes are being placed in positions to influence, if not write, new tax law and regulations. In a half way civilised society the facts revealed within would be a major and on-going scandal, instead we have occasional reporting that gives little idea of the whole picture. But what else can be expected from a media industry which is a member of the tax dodging fraternity itself? Brooks puts the facts before the reader in a straightforward readable prose that is often dryly amusing, and has done well to describe the methods used by tax dodgers such as transfer pricing in a way that is comprehensible to the general reader. He also draws on a rich range of real world examples to illustrate his arguments. Overall this is a book I can hardly praise enough, one that deserves as wide a readership as possible and is indispensable to anyone interested in social justice or even just basic sense of decency. 110% Recommended. An excellent companion volume to this book would be Nicholas Shasxson's "Treasure Islands: Tax Havens and the Men who Stole the World".

  3. 5 out of 5

    Nicholas

    This is a very good book about a hugely important, if rather dry subject - corporate taxation (mainly). For those not familiar with this subject (which I imagine is almost all readers) the book needs a little perseverance in the early chapters (even though, no doubt, Brooks has hugely simplified his explanation of the schemes). The second half of the book is the strongest part, where Brooks describes how the corporate taxation system has been totally captured by the big accountancy firms, and ho This is a very good book about a hugely important, if rather dry subject - corporate taxation (mainly). For those not familiar with this subject (which I imagine is almost all readers) the book needs a little perseverance in the early chapters (even though, no doubt, Brooks has hugely simplified his explanation of the schemes). The second half of the book is the strongest part, where Brooks describes how the corporate taxation system has been totally captured by the big accountancy firms, and how supine HMRC have been (following their bizarre New Labourish doctrine of "relationship management" with the big companies aka cozying up to them). The writing is very clear, leavened with nice touches of dry humour. What I particularly liked is that Brooks is very good at pointing out the injustices of the situation as well as the obvious point that it's not that sensible to write off billions you could collect at minimal cost. His strong points are a) that if HMRC were tougher it would make little real difference to corporate behaviour - so that the result would be more revenue b) that the rules as they are discriminate against British citizens and smaller businesses and thus are perverse and unjust. I think his prescriptions about what to do - beef up HMRC, change and enforce the law, and work for transparency, are very good ones. However, I think the idea that NGOs can be relied upon to "name and shame" companies is perhaps optimistic, simply because most won't have the technical ability to do so. And getting it wrong simply discredits the overall campaign to change the status quo. It seems to me the key is for HMRC to make an accountancy career outside the big four really worthwhile - that way they will be able to take on the big companies and win.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Keith Spence

    An interesting book about the depressing state of tax avoidance in Britain. Brooks shows how multinationals perniciously operate in collusion with government to ultimately avoid paying the correct amount of tax. Not an uplifting book at all but it's great that Richard Brooks is trying to get the message out there, the public should be aware of what is going on!

  5. 5 out of 5

    Jeff Kaye

    This is a book that anyone interested in the spiriting of vast sums from poorer counties or simply from the poor even in the UK should read. Billions of £'s disappear each year - the subject of profits or income that should be taxed that are not because (a) the laws are slack (b) HMRC is disinterested and ill-equipped because of poorly educated staff or cutbacks (c) governments are in thrall to business and scared stiff that any change to tax laws or to the proper imposition of existing laws wil This is a book that anyone interested in the spiriting of vast sums from poorer counties or simply from the poor even in the UK should read. Billions of £'s disappear each year - the subject of profits or income that should be taxed that are not because (a) the laws are slack (b) HMRC is disinterested and ill-equipped because of poorly educated staff or cutbacks (c) governments are in thrall to business and scared stiff that any change to tax laws or to the proper imposition of existing laws will make them leave the country - even when to "leave" usually means no more than a few head office staff and some accountants and lawyers (d) illegalities. Governments (whether Tory or Labour) have been transfixed by the desire to placate big business (small companies are badly treated as are medium wealth income tax payers as are those on benefits) because they are go to the same schools, speak the same language, jobs are available after politics or the civil service on company boards or in advisory businesses, the accountants and lawyers (whether in businesses being taxed or as advisors) are too high quality for those in government to deal with. This is a depressing saga, made worse by years of neglect or stupidity or outright collaboration of government and its departments not just in the UK but on a worldwide scale. The short section on how to fix this needs much more colour and elaboration. No doubt that Brexit and Trump and the massive inequality of wealth are due in a large way to the results of many years (from the 19th Century) of despoliation of proper tax laws and collection. This book explains it well in a UK context but more from those like Richard Brookes, Richard Murphy and the Tax Justice Network is needed to make even a scratch on the teflon surface of this sorry tale.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Colby

    Breathless insipidity

  7. 4 out of 5

    Vyvyan

    Reasonably clear for such a complex subject, and certainly eye-opening; 3.5 stars.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Susan Steed

    This book looks at takeover of the British State by corporate interests. Some of this stuff is hard to believe, like the fact that even the very offices that officials from HMRC sit in are owned by an offshore company based in Bermuda. In a nutshell; recently corporate rates have been reduced and tax exemptions introduced on tax haven branches. This has happened because of cosy relationship between the HMRC and big biz and there is a revolving door between the HMRC and tax departments in big cor This book looks at takeover of the British State by corporate interests. Some of this stuff is hard to believe, like the fact that even the very offices that officials from HMRC sit in are owned by an offshore company based in Bermuda. In a nutshell; recently corporate rates have been reduced and tax exemptions introduced on tax haven branches. This has happened because of cosy relationship between the HMRC and big biz and there is a revolving door between the HMRC and tax departments in big corporations. In addition democratic politics has been captured, for example, most of the major donors to both the Labour party and the Conservative party are registered as ‘non-domiciled’ so, they don’t officially live in the UK for tax purposes but they then have lobbying power over political parties. It also covers how PFI contracts pay zero tax and how much developing countries losing out, as well as how the rules lower the incentives for companies to locate real economic activity such as factories inside the UK. It’s quite hard to follow some of the various schemes and explanations in this book but there is some really high quality investigative journalism and although I'd heard some of the examples before it brings it all into a compelling narrative.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Daniel Lambauer

    an important book in the recent line of narrativr among the left but also liberal economists that worry about the future of capitalism. shows that the rich undermine the state and economy through elaborate tax avoidance and are helped to do so by the state - as they are being leniently challenged or laws are changed in their favour. only minus of the book is that one still does not quite understand how tax avoidance schemes really work at the end. and also it would have been good to query a bit an important book in the recent line of narrativr among the left but also liberal economists that worry about the future of capitalism. shows that the rich undermine the state and economy through elaborate tax avoidance and are helped to do so by the state - as they are being leniently challenged or laws are changed in their favour. only minus of the book is that one still does not quite understand how tax avoidance schemes really work at the end. and also it would have been good to query a bit more why the rich and corporates think it is ok to do that...

  10. 5 out of 5

    Steven

    If you ever felt that the corporate world was fucking you up the arse, but couldn't articulate how, then this book will provide the mirror and the ruler you need to look behind you and see who's doing it and just how deep in they've managed to get. Your biggest surprise might be seeing just how liberally HMRC have be handing out the lube. This book will make get you exasperated and it will make you angry, but especially at this moment that is precisely how people need to feel. Must read.

  11. 4 out of 5

    !Tæmbuŝu

    KOBOBOOKS Reviewed by Literary Review (May 2013) KOBOBOOKS Reviewed by Literary Review (May 2013)

  12. 4 out of 5

    Karen

  13. 5 out of 5

    Visakhvnair

  14. 5 out of 5

    Jon Williams

  15. 5 out of 5

    Sophie

  16. 5 out of 5

    Susana Escobar

  17. 4 out of 5

    Brian

  18. 4 out of 5

    Nigel

  19. 5 out of 5

    Graham

  20. 5 out of 5

    Xavier

  21. 5 out of 5

    Wayne Hornsey

  22. 4 out of 5

    Chris

  23. 4 out of 5

    Christopher

  24. 4 out of 5

    Viggo Knudsen

  25. 5 out of 5

    Nick Branigan

  26. 4 out of 5

    Cameron

  27. 4 out of 5

    Ian Bracey

  28. 5 out of 5

    Grant Hill

  29. 4 out of 5

    Matthew Smith

  30. 5 out of 5

    Anna Sansome

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