Thursday, 16 May 2013

Dorothy Goodbody is no Amazon

Wye Valley Brewery is a small family-run company in Herefordshire, famous for beers such as Butty Bach, Wye Valley Bitter and the Dorothy Goodbody range. It's in a different league entirely from multinational tax avoiders such as Vodaphone, Google and Amazon. I therefore found it quite bizarre to read this post by the brewery on Facebook: 

"This morning we are shocked to hear that as a relatively small family business we pay MORE tax than Amazon UK, who have sales of £4bn. They only paid £2.4m in tax and received government grants of £2.5m!" The BBC news story on Amazon's taxes is here. I don't think you need to be a financial expert to get the impression that, rather than pay tax, they are in fact subsidised by us mugs, the tax payers.

I've written about beer tax before, but usually from the drinkers' point of view. Here is proof, if it were needed, that it's not just drinkers who are being ripped off by the tax system: breweries are as well. I wonder whether that also applies to multinational brewing corporations that have businesses in the country, such as Molson Coors? Call me a cynic, but somehow I doubt it. It's only businesses that are wholly based in this country and pay all their tax here, without the option of shipping their liabilities around the globe to the cheapest jurisdiction, who are hammered in this way, and our own home-grown drinks industry is hit even harder than other businesses.

It was the utterly ruthless American capitalist, Leona Helmsley, who once said: "We don't pay taxes. Only the little people pay taxes." Although she was eventually prosecuted and spent 18 months in prison, she still left £4,000,000,000 when she died in 2007. Modern tax avoiders aren't as obvious as her, spending a great deal more on clever accountants and tax lawyers and leaving no chance - sadly - that we'll see any of them doing porridge, but their attitude is identical to hers.

One of the comments below Wye Valley's FB post says: "Can I pay for my beer in Luxembourg please?" Quite.


  1. The BBC article doesn't make it clear exactly what the £2.5m government grants (should read TAXPAYER'S grants) are for, and why they are paid at all to a multi-billion company like Amazon.


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