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18-May-2013

Corporate Tax Avoidance - The moral maze

Is it a symptom of a sick society ?

I for one am certainly sick of hearing the corporate line about all sorts of issues, that simply hides behind the law, or what is 'allowed', in order to avoid any sort of ethical or moral judgement.

No doubt in the latest furore about Amazon, Ebay, Starbucks etc. those responsible for financial tax decisions would all explain very rationally how they are acting in the best interest of shareholders and the company, which neatly avoids any questioning of what is right or wrong.

Some of them would probably even say that ethics don't come into it.

Playing with PR fire ?

However, it might actually be in their own interests to consider their position on this. After all, Starbucks have suffered at the hands of a public revolt and boycott of their coffee shops, which is a direct result of their 'tax efficiency' decision.

So its not just a few activists getty stroppy and moaning. There's a lot of people out there who are quite capable of making a judgement about what seems intrinsically right or wrong and they will vote with their feet.

So isn't it about time some corporate folk took account of an ethical element in their tax decisions ? If they need an 'excuse', then they can always reassure themselves that its not for any sort of benefit to society, its for their own organisation's future credibility.

Lets face it, Starbucks will forever now be associated with tax avoidance in the public mind, even though it was actually tax efficiency.

So is the permanent damage to the brand, worth the tax savings ?

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