A petition and Twitter campaign calling on Vodafone to pay a reputed £6bn in unpaid tax were launched last week. The e-petition already has over 1000 signatories and the Twitter campaign was averaging a tweet every 2-3 minutes yesterday evening.
The petitioners claim that Vodafone evaded the tax by using Luxembourg as a routing location for their £112bn ($183bn) acquisition of German mobile phone company Mannesmann and subsequent profit "stashing". The deal was signed in 2000 and at the time it was the biggest corporate merger in history.
Recent press reports, however, indicate that HM Revenue & Customs boss Dave Hartnett allegedly let Vodafone forgo £4.8bn when he settled a longstanding tax dispute with the company.
The settlement has been criticised as rather "cosy" in some quarters, particularly since Andy Halford, Vodafone's financial director, has been advising chancellor George Osborne on tax matters.
Moreover, as reported in Bloomberg, the company set aside at least £2.2bn to cover the payment.
As Richard Murphy notes on the Guardian's Comment is free website, however, since HMRC has already settled the case the matter is essentially "done and dusted", and the opportunity to collect any more money from Vodafone has gone.
Murphy says this leaves a "sour taste in the mouth", not least because days after the settlement was announced on 23 July "George Osborne was promoting Vodafone in India".
"Of course, the coincidental timing may just be fortuitous and no one is suggesting Vodafone has done anything wrong, but the impression given is that HMRC rushed a deal through before the Indian visit," adds Murphy.
- Vodafone tax bill page (Twitter)
- Pressure UK govt to recover £6bn evaded taxes from Vodafone (Go Petition)
- Vodafone's tax case leaves a sour taste (Guardian)
- Vodafone to pay $1.93 billion to settle U.K. tax suit over foreign units (Bloomberg)
- Tax law (Findlaw.co.uk)
- Tax law news (The Solicitor)
- Tax law Q&A (Community)
- Find a tax lawyer (Contact Law)