The headquarters of Boots the Chemist is a P.O. box in Switzerland.
No staff, no building, just a small post box.
They do this to dodge £86 million in tax a year. Last year they made £600 million in profit. The money they owe could pay for 1300 NHS doctors or 3000 teachers.
The protest was a real success. We could have reached more people (ran out of nearly a thousand flyers in half an hour!) and not everyone was happy with us being there, but the play was good fun and we sang inventive xmas songs. See the flyer handed out on the day. There was street theatre with a short play written by local playwright Jean Wildgoose. The play tells the story of the Fat Cat in Boots, the Taxman, and the brave Egalitarian who fights for greater equality between the richest and those worse off. The protests were supported by the Sheffield Anti-Cuts Alliance, with union members, students, and other Sheffield people gathering for a big protest against corporate greed.
The Sheffield Equality Group and the national Equality Trust supports the campaign against tax avoidance because, as set out in the book “The Spirit Level”, reducing the gap between the richest and poorest benefits us all. This gap has increased over the last two decades, causing a range of social and health problems. Most people want a more equal society, and fair taxation is one way of doing that.
Boots was founded by Jesse Boot who wanted to help the poor of Nottingham, it’s been a good British company for years. He’d be spinning in his grave to see what has happened now. A couple of years ago it was taken over by a shady group of bankers, they’ve shifted the headquarters to a post box in Switzerland, and claimed tax back on the loan they used to buy Boots in the first place. They make shedloads of profit but are also attacking the terms and conditions of people who work for Boots. It’s pure greed, they’re basically robbing us and taking the profits, filling their own boots as it were.
According to the government’s own conservative estimate, over the four years of the proposed spending cuts the total figure of tax evasion and avoidance amounts to £168 billion. That’s £168 billion lost in tax evasion and avoidance compared with £83 billion of public spending cuts. And while the government insist that they will crack down on tax cheats, the fact is HMRC, the department responsible for reclaiming this money, has been amongst the worst hit by the cuts with at least 13,000 jobs being cut. The government clearly has neither the desire nor the will to reclaim this money, yet these figures alone make a mockery of the idea that these cuts are either necessary or inevitable.