Owen McEldowney from ‘The Apopalyptics’ who produced the video said: ‘What companies were getting away with, within the law, was becoming a joke, so we wrote a song that says ‘Look, we all know you’re taking the piss, and we’re paying for it.’
‘Today, on tax return day, we want tax dodgers to return what they owe to us’
The UK tax gap is estimated, by HMRC, to be as much as £32 billion, more than money lost to benefit fraud. Tax campaigners estimate this to be as much as £120bn.
Last week UK Prime Minister David Cameron told a Davos audience that tax-dodging firms like Starbucks need to ‘wake up and smell the coffee’.
Starbucks, Amazon and Google were, last year, criticised by the UK Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee for shifting profits out of the UK to pay less tax.
Starbucks had reported losses in each of the last five years and therefore did not have to pay any corporation tax, yet executives told analysts that the UK business was profitable. Announcing its quarterly performance figures last week, Starbucks chose not to disclose its UK figures.
Today the ‘Big 4’ Accountancy firms, PWC, Ernst and Young, Deloitte and KPMG, will give evidence to the committee and are likely to be quizzed on their role in facilitating tax avoidance by major corporations.
The Apopalyptics’ single ‘Money on an Island’ marks a tipping point; tax avoidance has shifted from an issue for policy wonks, to mainstream pop culture.
‘Feature films and theatre productions are now being made about tax dodging. This is something firmly in the public consciousness and it isn’t going away.’ said London based artist, Liza Cucco who directed the film.
‘Money on an Island’, a 3-minute YouTube video features a banker on a beach advising clients to ‘keep your money on an island’, while a hip hop crew rap the details of how companies, criminals, drug dealers and dictators use tax havens to dodge tax and launder money.
All this while schools and hospitals close, household bills rise, and benefits for some of the poorest members of society are slashed.
Notes to Editors