Starbucks’ coffee menu famously baffles some people. In Britain, it’s their accounts that are confusing. Starbucks has been telling investors the business was profitable, even as it consistently reported losses.
This apparent contradiction arises from tax avoidance, and sheds light on perfectly legal tactics used by multinationals the world over. Starbucks stands out because it has told investors one thing and the taxman another.
The Seattle-based group, with a market capitalization of $40 billion, is the second-largest restaurant or cafe chain globally after McDonald’s. Accounts filed by its UK subsidiary show that since it opened in the UK in 1998 the company has racked up over 3 billion pounds ($4.8 billion) in coffee sales, and opened 735 outlets but paid only 8.6 million pounds in income taxes, largely due because the taxman disallowed some deductions.
Over the past three years, Starbucks has reported no profit, and paid no income tax, on sales of 1.2 billion pounds in the UK. McDonald’s, by comparison, had a tax bill of over 80 million pounds on 3.6 billion pounds of UK sales. Kentucky Fried Chicken, part of Yum Brands Inc., the no. 3 global restaurant or cafe chain by market capitalization, incurred taxes of 36 million pounds on 1.1 billion pounds in UK sales, according to the accounts of their UK units.
SPECIAL REPORT: How Starbucks avoids UK taxes
Scotland on Monday set up a historic independence referendum after its leader signed an agreement with Britain’s prime minister finalizing arrangements for a vote which could lead to the demise of its three-centuries-old union with England.
Scotland’s drive for sovereignty, led by its nationalist leader Alex Salmond, echoes separatist moves by other European regions such as Catalonia and Flanders at a time when a crisis-hit European Union is undergoing deep changes to its identity.
Signed in the Scottish capital Edinburgh, the deal will allow Scotland to decide in a 2014 referendum whether it should become an independent country or stay within the United Kingdom.
Nationalists have timed the vote to coincide with the 700th anniversary of the Battle of Bannockburn when Scottish forces led by Robert the Bruce defeated English invaders.
Prime Minister David Cameron opposes Scotland’s push, arguing that Britain is stronger together. But London agrees it is up to Scotland to decide its future for itself in a vote.
At noon London time on July 12, 2012, Britain will slip silently into a new era of radio history.
At the top of the hour, the BBC World Service - once the voice of the British empire - will transmit its last radio news bulletin from its imposing home, Bush House in central London.
For more than 70 years the art-deco building was the beating heart of the British Broadcasting Corporation’s overseas service and a bastion of press freedom around the world.
From here King George V addressed the Empire in 1932, Charles de Gaulle defied the Nazis, and legions of emigres sent news in dozens of languages to the unmistakeable introductory strains of Lilliburlero, its signature tune.
Website operators may soon be forced under planned new British laws to reveal the identity of those who post defamatory comments on their forums, a move that aims to protect victims by speeding up what is often a lengthy and expensive legal process.
Justice Secretary Kenneth Clarke said the proposed approach would give greater protection to operators who complied with the procedure, ahead of Tuesday’s second reading in Parliament of the Defamation Bill.
“As the law stands, individuals can be the subject of scurrilous rumour and allegation on the web with little meaningful remedy against the person responsible,” said Clarke in a statement.
“The government wants a libel regime for the Internet that makes it possible for people to protect their reputations effectively but also ensures that information online can’t be easily censored by casual threats of litigation against website operators.”
READ MORE: Internet trolls face tough new rules in UK
Prime Minister David Cameron accidentally left his daughter behind in a country pub after a Sunday lunch with friends following a mix-up over which car she was meant to be going home in, his Downing Street office said on Monday.
Cameron was swiftly reunited with 8-year-old Nancy, one of his three young children, but the incident will add fuel to critics who accuse him of being overly fond of relaxing, or “chillaxing” as he has called it, when not dealing with affairs of state.
Its disclosure in the Sun newspaper has the potential to embarrass Cameron, coming on the day the government launched a fresh drive to tackle “problem families” who lead chaotic lives and cost taxpayers millions of pounds in policing and welfare costs.
Cameron and his wife Samantha only discovered their eldest child was missing when they returned to their official country residence, Chequers in Buckinghamshire, 40 miles northwest of London.
Source: Media abuse group to call on Rupert Murdoch
The judicial inquiry into alleged media abuses is preparing to summon British newspaper owners, including Rupert Murdoch, to give public testimony in late April or early May, according to sources close to the inquiry.
One of the sources said that some of the proprietors to be called to testify have been notified of the intentions of the judge leading the inquiry, but did not know if Murdoch had yet been notified.
Another source said Brian Leveson had publicly indicated there would be opportunities during his inquiry when he would want to discuss its emerging findings with key figures.