Apple, Google, McDonald’s and IKEA are being hauled before the European Commission to explain their dodgy but legal tax deals.
EU lawmakers are expected to twist a few thumbscrews on multinationals to pay more tax on their profits locally.
The hearing, organized by the European Parliament’s tax committee, follows a similar event in November last year when Anheuser-Busch InBev, HSBC, Google and eight other companies were quizzed on the same subject.
While the committee has no power to order changes but the hearing reflects the political concerns over multinationals avoiding local tax liabilities and might call for EU action.
The European Commission is also investigating several cases to see if they breach the bloc’s state aid rules which prohibit EU countries from giving some companies an unfair advantage by making special deals on tax.
Attendence is optional Starbucks has already said it will not take part because it has challenged a European Commission order to the Dutch authorities to recover up to 30 million euros in back taxes, the European Parliament said in a statement.
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles is also appealing against an EU finding against its tax deal with Luxembourg, also turned down the invitation.
The head of the flat pack furniture outfit IKEA, Soren Hansen, will argue the Swedish furniture retailer’s case. Inter IKEA Group owns the intellectual property rights under which its retailers operate.
The Parliament’s Green party last month accused IKEA of avoided paying some 1 billion euros in taxes from 2009 to 2014 because it channeled royalty income through a Dutch company and possibly through Luxembourg and Liechtenstein.
All the companies have previously said they comply with EU tax rules. So if there is a problem the EU will have to change the rules.
Creators of flatpack furniture that might have baffled Isambard Kingdom Brunel, Ikea, has been slammed for turning to Photoshop to remove a “female problem” from its catalogue.
According to AFP, the company, which was founded by Ingvar Kamprad, a man with “youthful” Nazi connections, has been caught airbrushing women out of the catalogue.
A local version of Ikea’s yearly catalogue, published on its Saudi website, shows images that are identical but the women are missing.
Ulrika Englesson Sandman, a spokesperson for the Swedish Inter Ikea Systems, is apparently furious and sent a stiff massage to the outfit’s Saudi franchise holder.
Trade Minister Ewa Bjoerling has waded in saying that if Saudi Arabia does not allow women to be seen or heard, or to work, they are letting half their intellectual capital go to waste.
Swedish European Union Minister Birgitta Ohlsson branded the incident “medieval” on social networking site Twitter.
Ikea’s Saudi franchise partner operates three stores in the country, where it has seen “double digit” yearly growth over the past five years.
A list of the world’s most desirable brands has been released showing that one the whole we are vacuous, materialist creatures who worship at the altar of Apple.
Clear, part of Saatchi & Saatchi, approached a total of 17,000 people in the UK, USA, China and Singapore producing a list of the most highly sought after brands.
The survey involved asking a series of questions such whether a brand is one that; you are proud to be seen with; you feel attracted to; matters to you, which are usually terms in which one may describe a life-partner rather than an iPod Nano.
A glance at the UK top five gives the impression gives the impression that we are overweight, unhealthy and predisposed to bouts of aspirational vanity, which to be honest is remarkably prescient, with the iPhone of course topping the list, followed by, Rolls Royce, iPod, Cadburys (yes, Cadburys) and Ray-Ban.
However further down the list there is at least the presence of the Red Cross and Fairtrade littered the iTunes and Prada, offering some salvation for our souls.
Not so on the international stage, where there is no way to escape the fact that globally we are little more than slathering capitalist cultists, eyes rolling to the back of our heads at the mere thought of an Apple keynote.
So here is the International Top 15, with the surprise addition of functional Swedish flat pack furniture merchants IKEA at the bottom:
While drinking a delicious Dr Pepper and listening to Sky’s fantastic on-demand music streaming service, powered by an Intel chip’d computer running Microsoft’s Windows 7, I noticed on Google that it’s going to be perfectly fine for British TV to run with product placements.
I am personally outraged. While watching telly on my Sony TV or using Channel 4OD I don’t want my programs to be peppered with blatant plugs for Lynx, Gillette razors or Bertolli’s sandwich spread (which goes very, very well with Hovis bread, and Bernard Matthew’s turkey-ham).
It’s terrible to think that an episode of Doctor Who, for example, could actively promote stores such as Tesco, Asda, Waitrose or Sainsbury’s. Personally I prefer to get my shopping done at Marks and Spencer, which has high quality food at a reasonable price, not to mention the fantastic dine-in for two offers available.
No, consumer watchdogs should be all over this like flies on an old, rotten Mars Bar, Snickers, Galaxy or Cadbury’s Dairy Milk. Sat in my stylish and affordable Topman clothes, on my sofa bought from Ikea, I pondered the possible results of such lax media guidelines. I am sure it’s only a matter of time before my favourite newspaper and all-round new media portal Guardian.co.uk’s fantastic Comment is Free section delivers me some insightful opinion on the matter.
I will be checking my HTC Hero, Windows Phone, iPhone, iPad and Nexus One for regular updates, probably through one of Virgin’s generous Internet packages.