The Times: Tech Companies Must Pay Fair Amount Of Tax

The tech giants are flourishing in the coronavirus crisis as more business goes online and should not be allowed to avoid paying their fair share of taxes, The Times has said.

In a leader this week, The Times said that the tech giants should not be able to avoid paying the Digital Services Tax, which came into effect earlier this month, after TechUK asked that companies be given “more breathing space” before the tax is brought in.

The companies are “making some attempt to play their part in the crisis,” The Times said, with Google pledging $800 million in support for small businesses affected by the pandemic and Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg announcing that the platform would give the World Health Organisation unlimited free advertising.

The Times said: “That is welcome but comprises a fraction of the good these companies could do were they to pay fair amounts of tax. Tax Watch UK, a think tank, estimates that tax avoidance by just five of the largest tech companies costs Britain £1 billion a year. The Treasury expects the digital services tax to raise £440 million a year by 2023.

“Tech companies are moreover flourishing during the pandemic as more business is directed online. Internet marketplaces are struggling to cope with the new levels of interest while retailers are having to step up online advertising. Amazon is hiring thousands of people to meet demand as the shutdown puts many competitors out of action. Facebook has said that in countries hit by the virus messaging has increased by 50 per cent.

“There can be little justification for asking the taxpayer to fork out millions for these wealthy companies. Besides, social media has not always helped the fight against coronavirus. Facebook and Twitter have played host to fake news, from a conspiracy in Britain that 5G networks are behind the pandemic to a fake message purporting to be from Bill Gates.”