British American Tobacco accused of depriving developing countries of hundreds of millions of dollars in tax needed to provide people with health services
Author: Rob Davies, Guardian (UK), Published on: 1 May 2019
"Tobacco firm BAT 'costs developing countries $700m in tax", 30 April 2019
British American Tobacco has been accused of depriving developing countries of hundreds of millions of dollars in tax by using "financial manoeuvring" to shift profits to a UK subsidiary.
The Tax Justice Network estimated that London-based BAT, the world's largest tobacco company, would avoid paying $700m (£540m) between now and 2030 in Bangladesh, Indonesia, Kenya, Guyana, Brazil, and Trinidad and Tobago.
It said that in 2016 alone BAT managed to shift $941m, roughly 12% of its group pre-tax profit that year, from overseas companies into its British subsidiary, BAT Holdings...
This, it said, reduced the company's tax bill, partly because UK corporation tax is charged at 19% – lower than many of the countries in which BAT sells cigarettes.
There is no suggestion that any of the methods allegedly used are illegal and BAT said it complied in full with tax legislation in the countries where it operates. But in a detailed report entitled Ashes to Ashes, the Tax Justice Network said BAT's practices "fly in the face of tobacco companies' claims to be essential tax providers to low and middle income countries where 80% of the 1.1bn smokers worldwide live".
The campaign group's chief executive, Alex Cobham, said: "Cigarettes not only impose massive human costs, those who profit from them are actively depriving lower-income countries of the public funding they need to provide people with health services.
"At a minimum, governments must require tobacco companies to publish country by country reporting to make sure profits are taxed in the communities where they were raised, not in the tax havens they were siphoned off to."
The organisation said BAT had managed to shift profits from developing countries to its UK subsidiary, which pays relatively little corporation tax using a variety of methods...