Facebook paid £4,327 in corporation tax in the UK last year. Let that sink in for a few seconds. Now read this. The average UK worker earns £26,500 per year, which amounts to £5,392.80 in income tax and national insurance. Facebook paid less than the average worker for its entire UK operations in 2014. While there are obviously loopholes in the system that Facebook is well within its rights to exploit, this level of tax avoidance is morally despicable.
Zuck's social network has declared that it made operating losses of £28.5 million in the UK last year, though that’s after making the decision to pay UK-based staff a massive £35 million in bonuses, with each worker earning an extra £97,790 on top of their regular salary. It's also worth mentioning that Facebook made global profits of £1.9 billion on revenues of £8.2 billion in 2014.
However, Facebook doesn't appear to see what all the fuss is about. "We are compliant with UK tax law and in fact all countries where we have employees and offices," said a company spokesperson. "We continue to grow our business activities in the UK."
Warwick Business School's Crawford Spence, who's researching tax avoidance, reckons there's no chance of companies like Facebook, Google and Starbucks changing their own ways: "There is no suggestion that the company is not compliant with UK tax laws, so the question really arises as to whether Facebook has a moral responsibility to pay tax beyond what the law requires them to? Or whether the tax laws themselves are too complex and permissive? Historically, speaking to the moral character of corporations has rarely resulted in behaviour change, so if the UK wants companies that make huge profits to also pay tax then it will have to alter the regulations that surround them. Internationally, there are just far too many loopholes and complex arrangements available to corporations."
If you're not still trembling with rage, we'd love to hear your thoughts on the matter.