All But Two FTSE 100 Firms 'Avoid Paying Tax'
Nearly all of Britain's biggest companies legally avoid tax in the UK, including the state-backed Royal Bank of Scotland (LSE: RBS.L - news) and
Lloyds Banking Group (LSE: LLOY.L - news) , according to new research.
Action Aid found that 98 out of the 100 companies on the FTSE 100 (Euronext: VFTSE.NX - news) base their operations in territories where there is low
or no tax.
The heaviest users were based in the financial sector despite the industry's role in the economic crisis.
Britain's four biggest banks - HSBC (LSE: HSBA.L - news) , Barclays (LSE: BARC.L - news) , Lloyds and RBS - have 1,649 tax haven companies between
But with 611 subsidiaries in tax havens, advertising giant WPP (LSE: WPP.L - news) tops the list.
Broadly a state or territory is considered a tax haven if it offers a low or zero rate of tax as well as a politically and economically stable
environment to companies and individuals.
The UK has a number of these regions under its jurisdiction, including Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man (Other OTC: MAGOF.PK - news) .
The charity says the practice is having a massive impact on both rich and poor countries, with developing nations losing three times more to tax
havens than they receive in aid each year.
The only two firms on Britain's main share index that did not avoid tax in this way are precious metals miner Fresnillo (Frankfurt: A0MVZE - news)
and Bristol-based financial services provider Hargreaves Lansdown.
Action Aid's tax justice expert Chris Jordan told Sky News that the UK could be missing out on £18bn a year in tax revenues due to the practice.
He said: "Tax havens have a damaging impact on the UK exchequer, the stability of the international financial system, and vitally on the ability of
developing countries to raise tax revenues which would lift them out of poverty and make them less dependent on aid.
"When multinationals use tax havens to avoid paying their fair share, ordinary people in both poor and rich countries are left to pick up the bill.
Spending on doctors, nurses and other essential services gets cut for those who need it most.
"Tax havens might provide the lure of financial secrecy and low tax rates for big companies, but at a time when all countries are desperate for
revenues, the UK government can't afford to turn a blind eye."
Link : uk.finance.yahoo.com...