Who are Taxpayers’ Alliance – and why have they nothing to say about the Starbucks Corporation Tax Issue?

7 Dec

An organisation called Taxpayers’ Alliance has become a stalwart on UK news programmes. Their spokespeople crop up with regularity to fulminate against government waste. But oddly, given the title of the organisation, they have had nothing to say about one of the big news stories in the UK this week: the fact that Starbucks, Amazon, Google and a number of other corporations have been paying no or virtually no corporation tax in the UK. One would have assumed that the Taxpayers’ Alliance would be very interested in making sure that the government’s tax take is fair, as well as having an interest in how tax monies are spent.

But a scan of Taxpayers’ Alliance website shows no mention of this issue – even though it was discussed prominently in Prime Minister’s Questions and the news media. So this begs the question: who are Taxpayers’ Alliance? Well, they sound like a group of like-minded citizens who have banded together to look after the interests of the taxpayer. Indeed, Taxpayers’ Alliance describe themselves as ‘a grassroots organisation’. But that doesn’t really stand up to scrutiny. A Guardian report (albeit from 2009) paints a very different picture: http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2009/oct/09/taxpayers-alliance-conservative-pressure-group. Rather than being a grassroots organisation Taxpayers’ Alliance seems to be backed by corporate and monied interests – usually those on the right of the political spectrum.

It is possible to join Taxpayers’ Alliance but – unusually – you don’t have to pay to join. Most grassroots organisations would require some sort of joining fee to cover costs, but presumably Taxpayers’ Alliance have their costs covered elsewhere. You can donate to them online but there is little sense – from its promotional material – that it is a mass movement.

Only relatively recently have their added regional organisers to their website – suggesting a nascent grassroots organisation, but this is late in the day and there is only one listed. The rest seem to be London-based. So Taxpayers’ Alliance is very welcome to comment on the blog why they have nothing to stay about corporate tax avoidance. One would have thought the issue would be front and centre of their campaigns. It certainly is a grassroots issue in that people are vexed by it, but then you would need to a grassroots organisation to pick up on what the grassroots are saying.

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