Socialist Worker

The Olympic Games will be great (for getting out of tax)

Issue No. 2312


Poor old fat cats. They can’t even avoid their tax without causing a backlash.

So thank goodness for the Great Tax Haven—more commonly known as the Olympic Games.

Firms sponsoring the Olympics will escape paying around £600 million in corporation tax and income tax in Britain, according to an Ethical Consumer report.

HM Revenue & Customs has granted many “non-resident” companies and London 2012 “partners” a temporary exemption from the strain of paying tax. These include McDonalds, Visa and Coca-Cola.

The tax break applies from 30 March until 8 November. Hosting the Games could cost up to £24 billion. We’ve effectively paid to help firms grab even more profits.

Tim Hunt, author of the report, says that “tax sweeteners” have become commonplace for winning the right to host sporting events.

So it’s maybe no surprise that some of the tax breaks will also apply to the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow in 2014.

Could these money-grabbing antics explain why Olympic fever is decidedly lukewarm? Some 400,000 unsold tickets are still languishing on the official website.

And organisers seem increasingly worried about the potential for protest. Banners, placards and clothing with political statements are among the items banned from Olympic venues.

For the full report on the Great Olympic Tax Swindle go to the Ethical Consumer website


TB phone home

Apparently Tony Blair sought a briefing on UFOs from the Ministry of Defence in 1998.

Was this because he was worried about how to respond to queries about “alien lifeforms” under the new Freedom of Information Act? Or could he have been on the lookout for new lifeforms to bomb and maim in the future?


Meal deal

Tory education secretary Michael Gove cares so much about the quality of school meals that he discussed the matter with chef Henry Dimbleby.

Their chats took place while on holiday together at a Moroccan villa. Gove commissioned Dimbleby to review school meals a few months later.


Tories take aim at working pensioners

How to make life even harder for older people? It’s a question the Tories seem to spend much time pondering. But luckily they always manage to find a way.

So Suffolk Tory MP Therese Coffey has suggested that poor pensioners who have to work could also be forced to pay national insurance contributions.

The cash snatched from pensioners can be used to give more tax breaks to business. The Treasury says up to £2 billion could be “saved” if the change was made. This compares to the £120 billion that could be saved every year if the government got tough on tax avoidance.


Austerity ahoy

Oh goody! The Tories’ “independent” Office for Budget Responsibility says we’ve got decades of austerity to come.

The problem, apparently, is that people are living too long and pushing up the cost of healthcare and pensions. It fails to mention that these things are paid for by ordinary people themselves through taxes.


We’ve never had it so good, says Tory

The government’s social mobility tsar—yes there is such a thing—Alan Milburn admitted last week that the Tories risked sparking class war. That seems reasonable.

But bizarrely Milburn argued that the risk came from the Tories treating working class people too well.

“There is less and less sympathy over time for efforts to ameliorate on the part of government the financial position of those at the bottom end,” he sniffed.

The idea that the Tories are making “efforts” to help the poor is an insult. But so is a former Labour cabinet minister telling the Tories to be harder on workers.

The richest 10 percent of households in Britain are now more than 500 times more wealthy than the poorest 10 percent. So much for those “efforts” to help the poor!


Do you work for workfare? Get on the dole

The Tories’ “welfare to work” programme is fast becoming a “work to welfare” one. They have halved their estimate of how many people will use the schemes, so now some of those employed to get people off benefits could now lose their jobs.

Meanwhile, one firm hired to aid the programme has gone into liquidation—after banks refused to lend to it. Eco Actif says that banks thought the Work Programme was too risky and that the association with A4e put investors off.


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The Troublemaker
Tue 17 Jul 2012, 16:42 BST
Issue No. 2312
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