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London - Facebook has emerged as the latest big firm to sidestep the taxman by paying just £240,000 in corporation tax in Britain.
The social networking site, which makes £800-million in profits overseas, has siphoned hundreds of millions into an offshore haven to avoid tax payments in the UK and other markets.
The move, which is legal, is a tactic that has come under scrutiny following outrage that a series of global companies including Starbucks, Google, Facebook, Amazon and eBay pay relatively small tax bills in the UK.
Last month the government launched a crackdown on the practice of slashing tax bills by using complex legal techniques.
The Sunday Times reported that Facebook’s international earnings are paid to its Irish subsidiary, which is the group’s overseas headquarters, and taxed at better Irish rates.
This subsidiary made a gross profit of £840m in 2011. However it posted a £15-million loss a year later after siphoning £750m of royalty and licensing payments to another subsidiary in the Cayman Islands as well as to the US.
Last month the head of HM Revenue and Customs, Lin Homer, said half of the biggest firms in the UK have headquarters overseas, many in low-tax regimes.
A spokesman for Facebook said the firm complied with all regulations, adding: “Dublin was selected as the best location to hire staff with the skills to run a hi-tech operation serving Europe.” - Daily Mail