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Big firms must pay their fair share of taxes; small businesses and workers deserve support

September 17, 2021 8:00 PM
Originally published by UK Liberal Democrats

The world's largest and most successful companies must pay their fair share. And to do that, we need a global minimum corporation tax.

Amazon paid just £293m in tax in the UK last year, while its sales surged by 26% to £13.73bn.

This isn't right.

At the G7 summit in June, major economies reached an international consensus on tackling tax avoidance. The Lib Dems are proud to support the breakthrough championed by President Biden for a global corporation tax rate.

Big business must pay their way. But the UK Government failed to push through some key improvements that would have made the system fairer and more effective.

Christine Jardine MP, Lib Dem Treasury spokespersonTo press the Government to improve the deal, Christine Jardin, Lib Dem Treasury spokeperson propsed a new policy supported by Lib Dem members at conference:

  1. Backing President Biden's proposal for a global minimum rate of corporation tax at 21%
  2. Closing loopholes which could allow tech-giants such as Amazon to avoid tax due to a 10% profit threshold.
  3. Keeping the Digital Service Tax until the deal is finalised. This is the tax on search engines, social media platforms and online marketplaces. Withdrawing from this as the government plans could result in a combined tax cut of £232.5 million for Amazon, Facebook, Google and eBay.
  4. Work with low and middle-income countries to ensure the global corporation tax rate benefits them too.

Read our new policy in full

Tax dodging is entirely unacceptable. Internet-based multinationals such as Amazon are some of the most valuable and profitable companies in the world.

These corporations must pay their way.

Creating a fair global tax system calls for greater international cooperation. We must do more to listen to the concerns of low and middle-income countries. We must ensure the legislation we pass does not result in a tax cut for the world's most profitable companies.

The Lib Dems are calling out the Government. We all pay taxes to contribute to our society. The time has come for big business to contribute too.

Small businesses and workers need certainty and support Unfortunately the Government is simply not doing enough to protect them.

The pandemic devastated many small businesses as they were forced shut overnight. Retail and hospitality were among the hardest hit. As a result, many businesses are in a rent-arrears crisis with unpaid commercial rent totalling £6 billion.

Covid-19 also took a toll on the UK's towns and highstreets. People lost employment opportunities in the area and the sense of community fostered by local businesses. The Federation of Small Business has released a dire warning that 250,000 businesses could be forced to close by the end of the year. Small businesses can't have their problems ignored. They need action now.

Compounding the struggles of small business in the pandemic is the Government's terrible EU trade deal, which has led to a drop in trade with Europe compared to 2019, and a staff shortage crisis that has brought many businesses to their knees.

The Government has ignored the three million people excluded from all Covid-19 support schemes.

Today at conference our members called for dedicated support schemes to address these isues and protect those sectors worst affected by Covid. Our small business support package included:

Supporting jobs that are still impacted by the pandemic, by extending furlough and self employed income support to the end of 2021.

Maintaining the 5% VAT for hospitality and tourism until the end of 2021/22.

Ensure that a large proportion of new jobs created are green jobs, encouraging innovation in industry to adapt to a green economy, carry out an audit of the skills which will be required, and ensure those who are unemployed due to Covid-19 are helped to reskill to fill them.

Members also called on the Government to fix Kickstart and focus on tackling unemployment amongst young people - especially from a black and ethnic minority background.

This government has failed countless small businesses, employees and self-employed people during this pandemic. We call for clear policy and not last minute knee-jerk reactions.

It is urgent that the government puts in place the right support for economic recovery post pandemic.

We must act now to ensure our economy is open, fair and creates new job opportunities.