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Corbyn issues tax warning to multinational companies

The Labour leader set out plans to clamp down on ‘enablers of tax dodging’.

Jeremy Corbyn met workers at an Amazon depot in Sheffield (Stefan Rousseau/PA)
Jeremy Corbyn met workers at an Amazon depot in Sheffield (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

By Harriet Line, PA Deputy Political Editor, and Sam Blewett, PA Political Correspondent

Jeremy Corbyn has vowed to stop multinational companies offshoring their tax bills to “lower tax regimes” with measures to force them to pay their fair share in the UK.

The Labour leader met workers at an Amazon depot in Sheffield as he warned big companies they would have to pay taxes on all operations in the UK.

Labour expects the measures would raise £6.3 billion for the exchequer in 2024 to help pay for its manifesto plans to nationalise key utilities in a “green industrial revolution”.

However, the CBI warned the plan could lead more companies to question whether they had a future in Britain under a Labour government.

Mr Corbyn and shadow employment rights secretary Laura Pidcock set out plans to clamp down on “enablers of tax dodging”, increase HMRC targeted audits and establish an inquiry into the finance sector.

If Labour wins the December 12 election, it would introduce a 20% offshore company property levy, require greater scrutiny of MPs’ tax affairs and scrap non-dom status which gives tax advantages.

Labour was also highlighting existing policies to end in-work poverty with plans to give a £10-an-hour minimum wage for all, ban zero-hours contracts and give every worker full rights from their first day in a job.

The Labour leader told reporters: “We’re here to say to big companies that operate in Britain that in future you’re going to have to pay taxes on all your operations in this country – you will not be able to offshore your tax bill to some lower tax regime.

“I think these are just basic issues of social justice and that’s why I’m here this morning.”

He said zero-hours contracts would be a “thing of the past” under Labour, and everyone in work would know “exactly what their basic income is going to be”.

Mr Corbyn has long sparred with tech giants, previously writing a birthday card to Amazon founder Jeff Bezos wishing the company “many happy tax returns” and demanding it pays more UK tax and improves working conditions.

An Amazon spokesman said: “These claims about Amazon are false. The Government wrote the tax laws and they are designed to encourage investment, and we are investing heavily in creating jobs and infrastructure across the UK – more than £18 billion since 2010.

“This investment helped contribute to a total tax contribution of £793 million during 2018 – £220 million in direct taxes and £573 million in indirect taxes.

“This year we announced plans to create 2,000 new jobs in the UK, taking our total workforce to over 29,500. Our associates receive industry-leading pay, with all employees earning at least £9.50 to £10.50 an hour depending on location.”

CBI chief economist Rain Newton-Smith said the “vast majority” of businesses already followed “responsible” tax practices.

“Businesses in the UK have faced too much political uncertainty. Jeremy Corbyn’s announcement today leaves companies asking, ‘should I stay or should I go’?” she said.

“Labour need to recognise that the best way to push up wages and tackle inequality is by improving productivity.”

PA

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